A woman holds a symbolic key as she takes part in a rally ahead of "Nakba Day" in Ramallah on May 13, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip marked another “Nakba Day” (Day of Catastrophe) Wednesday, on the 67th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.
The Palestinian Authority decided this year that Palestinians would mark Nakba Day on May 15. However, the rallies took place on Wednesday because May 15 falls on a Friday, when employees and children are not at work or school.
The major rally took place in Ramallah, where hundreds of Palestinians marched from the Mukata presidential compound to the center of the city, chanting slogans in favor of the “right of return” for refugees to their former homes inside Israel.
The rally was organized by the Palestinian Authority, whose representatives delivered speeches emphasizing the importance of the right of return and condemning Israel for its practices against Palestinians. Similar rallies took place in various parts of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas announced that “resistance” was the only means to achieve the right of return.
Many participants in the Ramallah march wore black T-shirts with the message, “1948, the return is a right and the will of the people.” Others carried keys as a symbol of the refugees returning to their homes.
A woman carrying a placard with the name of her former village, Bet Nabala, shouted, “We will return even if we have to wait another 67 years. If we don’t return, our children or grandchildren will return.
We educate our children that this [the West Bank] is not our homeland. Our real homeland is there, in Palestine. There is no Israel. This is the land of Palestine from where we were forcibly expelled.”
Ramallah Gov. Leila Ghannam, who addressed the rally on behalf of PA President Mahmoud Abbas (who is currently abroad), said that Palestinians would never forget or relinquish the rights of the refugees.
“Some think that with the passing of time, the right of return ceases to exist,” Ghannam said. “Our rights won’t be abandoned, and the young people won’t forget.
Jerusalem must return to its owners, regardless of the plans to Judaize the city.”
Zakariya al-Agha, head of the PLO’s refugee department, said in his speech that although 67 years had passed since the “Nakba,” the Palestinians would never forget the right of return.
“Israeli practices won’t stop the Palestinians from returning to the homes of their fathers and grandfathers,” he declared.
Agha warned that Israel’s insistence on getting recognition as a Jewish state was aimed at expelling its more than 1.5 million Arab citizens and preventing five million refugees from returning to their former homes.
Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction said in a statement that the “right of return is a sacred right,” adding that no force in the world could deny it or force the Palestinians to “capitulate.”
Fatah vowed to continue the struggle until the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital “on the historic and natural land of Palestine, the