World Bulletin/News Desk
Palestinians are marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced out of their homes and into exile.
Sirens will be sounded for 65 seconds and demonstrations will take place in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Jericho to mark the day.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their villages during the war that established Israel in 1948, an event they commemorate every year as their Nakba Day, Arabic for "catastrophe". The Israeli forces which forced 800 thousand Palestinians into migration, signed off on a large number of massacres which killed more the 15 thousand Palestinians that same year.
8 people were injured on Wednesday in the clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths in the city of al-Halil south of Ramallah.
The clash erupted when the youths began throwing rocks at the Israeli police intervened in the Nakba demonstrations.
7 Palestinians were wounded when police attacked they with plastic bullets and tear gas.
On Tuesday, the eve of the anniversary, Palestinians carried 65 torches through the streets of Ramallah to mark the event, while hundreds of others gathered around a stage to hear the Palestinian National Forces band play their instruments.
Thousands of Palestinians living as refugees under the Israeli occupation of their lands took to the steets in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Gaza in protests organized to mark the event 65th anniversary.
Hundreds of people commemorating the Nakba in the city if Beytullahim in the West Bank were confronted with the obstacle of Israeli soldiers. The army fired tear gas at the Palestinians. A large number of Palestinians were detained during the clash which ensued with the security forces.
In the evening, a special pre-recorded speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was broadcast on Palestinian television in which he said that the Palestinian right to an "independent state" had been affirmed by "countries all over the world." He called on the Israeli government to show its positive intentions during negotiations by releasing Palestinian prisoners.
Thousands of people joined a demonstration in the Egyptian capital of Cairo for the Nakba.
Carrying pictures depicting the Israeli occupation, demonstrators carried signs saying “Jerusalem us like Myanmar and Bangladesh” and “We are one community (ummah) and people.”
Muhammad Al-Baltaji, an executive of the Freedom and Justice Party, called on President Mohamed Morsi to take action for the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Israeli occupation.
According to the UN, nearly 1.5 million people lived in 1,300 Palestinian towns and villages in historic Palestine prior to the Israeli occupation.
The Israelis controlled 774 towns and villages and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages during the Nakba.
5.3 million registered Palestinian refugees today
While statistical data show that refugees constitute 44.2% of the total Palestinian population in Palestine, records by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) showed that there were 5.3 million registered Palestinian refugees by mid-2013, constituting 45.7% of the total Palestinian population worldwide, said the PCBS.
The PCBS said, however, that these estimates represent the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, given the fact that there are many non-registered refugees.
These estimates also do not include Palestinians who were displaced between 1949 and the 1967 war and do not include the non-refugees who left or were forced to leave as a result of the war in 1967.
'Right of return'
Palestinians have maintained for six decades that Arabs who either fled or were expelled from their homes during the fighting that followed Israel's 1948 creation, as well as all their descendants, all have the right to reclaim former properties in what is now Israel.
The uprooted Palestinians and their offspring, now numbering several million people, cite United Nations resolutions in claiming the right to return to the property they left behind.
Failed talks about the right of return broke off four years ago.
Students at Tel-Aviv University threatened
Hundreds of students assembled at Tel Aviv University (TAU) on Monday to commemorate theNakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic. Palestinian and Jewish activists were set to join together to commemorate the Nakba at an event in Tel Aviv University.
Student organizer Dan Walfish said that poetry readings will be delivered in both Hebrew and Arabic, and will include the works of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, a refugee from Tantura, a Palestinian village destroyed by a Zionist militia in May 1948.
The Nakba Law is a discriminatory legislation that threatens to defund any organization that marks the anniversary of Israel’s establishment as a “day of mourning.” Therefore the university made the organizers pay for the event’s security and banned the use of loudspeakers.
Similar commemorations were canceled elsewhere in Israel, including one planned atHaifa University.
A week before the 2012 commemoration, Gideon Saar, then Israel’s education minister, pressured Tel Aviv University to prevent the event, as did members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.
Last year the commemoration attracted a number of counter-protesters, including Knesset members and activists from Im Titzu, a far-right political group.
Students from Im Tirzu reportedly confronted Palestinian students at the university protesting Israel’s attacks on Gaza last November, shouting racist slogans including “Death to the Arabs.”
Graduate student Noa Levy noted that university security demanded that students change the name of the event from ‘ceremony’ to ‘protest’ or ‘assembly,’ “as if the Zionists have a monopoly on what can be considered a commemoration ceremony. We’re still trying to fight this.”
In 2012 counter-protesters attacked the commemoration, andorganizers and affiliated activists were harassed on Facebook and other social media outlets ahead of the commemoration.
Weeks later, Rula Khalaily and three other prominent activists were threatened in a letter mailed to the dean of
Tel Aviv University, declaring a spell on the students and providing their identity card numbers. The letter alleged that the activists are “promoter[s] of Nakba terror.”
The main message is to address the Nakba as a day of mourning for the Palestinian people,” Rula Khalaily said, “and to tell the Israeli government that they can never prevent us from talking about our history.”
“We want to share the pain of the Nakba, openly and together, and to start a public discourse on the Nakba, [which] is still going on by preventing the refugees from returning, by taking Palestinian lands, and preventing equal rights for Palestinians,” Walfish said.
Organizers expect pressure to cancel or tone down the commemoration.
Demonstrators in the Lebanese capital of Beirut set sail on boats unfurling Palestinian flags and chanting slogans defending Palestinians' right to return home.
Ahmad Murad of the Lebanese National Resistance Front said the demonstrations showed their resolve as he blamed Arab countries for displaying 'a passive attitude' on the Palestinian issue.