Thousands Gather to Commemorate Palestinian Nakba
Today, thousands gathered in parts of the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and parts of Israel to commemorate al-Nakba, or the catastrophe, the day where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes during Israel’s war for independence.
Protests were concentrated in the Ramallah area of the West bank. 5,000 people gathered at the former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat’s tomb before marching to Ofer Prison in Beituniya. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, a group representing Palestinian communities in Israel, called for a general strike and urged Arab citizens to visit the sites of former Palestinian villages. Thousands more gathered in Nablus calling for the right of return.
In Lebanon, Palestinian coalition forces marched to the Shatila, a refugee camp home to thousands, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized “The Return Festival” in the al-Rashidiyah refugee camp in Tyre. The Palestinian Institution for Human Rights rallied in front of the ESCWA building in central Beirut condemning the international silence towards the right of return of the Palestinian people.
Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a group of 400 protesters that left at least 15 people hospitalized. Last year, Israeli troops opened fire on demonstrators from Lebanon and Syria as they marched toward the border. At the Kalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, some 300 Palestinians held a protest resulting in the harm of at least 20.
The events were as a whole peaceful and hailed the hunger strike of some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners, which reportedly came to an end yesterday after Israel brokered a deal with the Palestinian authorities. However, some prisoners, notably Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diyab, have vowed to continue their hunger strike in protest of their arbitrary detention. Halahla and Diyab have entered into their 77th day of deprivation and are in critical condition. U.N Spcial Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights writes that al-Nakba day should be important “for all persons of good will.”