Clashes overshadow Palestinian 'Naqba'

'Catastrophe' day marks the anniversary of the creation of Israel in 1948.

Naqba celebrants (photo credit: AP [file])
Naqba celebrants
(photo credit: AP [file])
This year's al-Naqba commemorations were overshadowed by fierce factional violence in the Gaza Strip that killed at least 20 people this week. In Gaza City, about 100 people tried to gather for a rally but had to disperse after shooting erupted between rival Fatah and Hamas gunmen. At Naqba rallies in the West Bank, which has been spared serious internal violence so far, Palestinians called on Fatah and Hamas to stop the fighting and restore order to the chaotic Gaza Strip. "We are saddened by the situation we have reached - fighting each other," said Ibrahim Odeh, 73, at a rally in Ramallah. Nearby, people waved Palestinian flags and carried signs in support of allowing Palestinians displaced in 1948 to return to their homes in what is now Israel. In a televised speech marking the anniversary, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem and a "fair and agreed solution" for the refugees. Abbas also called on the international community to lift a boycott of the Palestinian government imposed after Hamas took over the government. Hamas is listed as a terror group and has rejected three key international demands - recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting previous peace agreements. Abbas said lifting the sanctions would allow the government to bring order to Gaza, "ending the internal chaos and the lawlessness."