Palestinians Commemorate “Day of Catastrophe”
The Palestinians mark on Tuesday “Nakba Day” or “Day a Catastrophe” dedicated to the 64th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, which was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, and was celebrated this year on April 26, according to the Jewish calendar. Nakba Day is celebrated through rallies in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries.
Palestinians are reported to have thrown stones at Israeli civilians and IDF. Hundreds attend Nakba Day rallies in Jerusalem and the West Bank, while thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah for a major rally in Martyr Yasser Arafat Square on Tuesday.
Black banners and Palestinian flags were raised to mark the moment. The rally was attended by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The Palestinian Authority has suspended classes and work on Tuesday to allow as many Palestinian people as possible to attend the event.
Speaking on the occasion, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he would never forget the beginning of the “continuous hardship” for his people. About five million Palestinians are scattered in the neighboring countries Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Some of them live in refugees camps being denied basic human rights, causing people to suffer, as Abbas says, whether they live in camps or in other countries. In Gaza, the Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said that the Palestinians would never give up their right to return.
On Tuesday morning stones were thrown at the Jews praying at Rachel’s tomb near Bethlehem. There were no injuries, and police has dispersed the protesters. In Hebron Palestinians threw stones at a military security forces checkpoint. IDF and Border Police dispersed the rioters with no damage or injuries.
Firebombs and stones were thrown by hundreds of Palestinians in Betunia, causing no harm, while 300 Palestinians gathered at Kalandiya checkpoint and a number of them clashed with the IDF troops, causing 20 Palestinians to be injured.
Four people were arrested by police in Isawiya, east Jerusalem, for throwing stones, five-year-old children participating in the process of stone throwing. Nakba Day was celebrated in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian groups participating in a common rally.
The organizers of the rally called on the Palestinian protestors to meet at the U.N. headquarters in Gaza City. Israeli Defense Force has increased the alert level at its Syrian and Lebanese border, in an attempt to prevent the events last year from occurring. Last year at least a dozen people were killed as they had tried to rush Israel’s northern borders.
Nakba Day commemorates the exodus of hundreds of thousands Palestinians who had to flee their lands after the Jewish state was created on May 14 by a decision of the United Nations.
About 700,000 Palestinian people are said to have been displaced by the war that followed the proclamation of Israeli statehood in 1948. The Nakba Day comes a day after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli penitentiary system ended a weeks-long hunger strike by which they were demanded for better life condition.
They ended their strike as a result of an agreement by which they could receive more visits from their families and limits to the controversial Israeli policy of keeping people for years in prison without bringing a charge against them.
Some iconic Palestinian prisoners, like Hamas member Abdullah al-Barghouti, who is serving 67-life-in-prison sentences, were transferred from solitary confinement to general prison population. The hunger strike had a large popular support and threatened to throw the already tense bilateral relations in chaos.
The right of the Palestinians to return is an issue in the debates between the Palestinian and Israeli diplomacy, as an attempt to resolve the situation by a “two-state” creation proposal is being made by both sides.
Last Saturday the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu responded to a letter Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had addressed to him in April. In his letter, Abbas urged Netanyahu to recognize the 1967 borders of the Palestinian territories as borders of the future state of Palestine, and to stop all constructions in the settlements in the West Bank.
The letter that was delivered to Abbas through the Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho is said to comprise no clear answer to any of the demands made by the president of the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been in a deadlock for years, as the settlement issue in the West Bank has come in the way and could not be overcome since September 2010.11