PALESTINIANS marked the 67th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ or ‘the great disaster’ on May 12 with a festival through the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Thousands of Palestinians commemorated the 67th anniversary of the Nakba and renewed their demands to return to their cities, villages and lands that they were forced to leave in 1948.
In 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families were forcibly driven from their homes, to flee to other countries or herded into refugee camps, villages were razed to the ground and thousands of Palestinians were killed.
During the festival in Ramallah, crowds set off from former president Yasser Arafat’s tomb towards Yasser Arafat square holding Palestinian flags, black flags and signs displaying the names of destroyed Palestinian towns and villages. The march was headed by a military musical group.
Governor of the Ramallah and al-Bieh district Laila Ghannam said in a speech on behalf of the president that Jerusalem must return to its people despite Israel’s plans to ‘Judaise’ it.
Ghannam added that Palestinian people still carry the keys to the homes they were displaced from despite the 67 years that passed.
PLO executive committee member Zakariya al-Agha said that the Nakba had imposed a reality of suffering that is still ongoing.
Al-Agha said that 67 years proved that the Palestinian people will not forget and that they have the historic and legal right of return to their homes that they were displaced from in 1948.
He warned that the Israeli plan to declare itself a Jewish state threatens 1.5 million Palestinians living inside the country and threatens the return of 5 million refugees who were displaced from these lands in 1948.
Al-Agha added that ‘with the continuation of occupation with all its forms against Palestinians, increasing settlements and the Israeli government’s refusal to obey international will, we stress the PLO’s decision to stop all forms of negotiations until settlement is stopped, a reference to an international peace process, a timeline to end the occupation is provided and the release of prisoners.’
‘We are facing an extreme rightist government,’ he said, ‘which is a misfortune for Palestinians as it opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state, refuses to return to the borders of 1967, refuses the return of refugees and insists on Jerusalem as its eternal capital which requires of us to enhance our national unity and establish reconciliation.’
Al-Agha called upon the international community to uphold its responsibility toward Palestinians and their cause.
The secretary-general of the Palestinian cabinet, Ali Abu Diak, said that after 67 years of Nakba Israel still commits crimes and massacres against Palestinians.
Abu Diak added that despite the suffering and Israeli blockade on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip Palestinians did not stop demanding their right of return and having Jerusalem as their capital.
He said that the government will continue to work on ending division and defending its religious sites and Jerusalem and support Palestinians and refugees in all refugee camps.
In light of the 67th commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba, prisoners’ affairs committee head Issa Qaraqa said that Palestinian prisoners today are facing a legal Nakba carried out by the Israeli government and its security services.
Qaraqa estimated that Israeli authorities have detained over 1 million Palestinians since 1948, as over 850,000 Palestinians were detained since 1967 alone, according to Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-detainees.
The 9,000 Palestinian detainees who were held in Israeli camps were systematically exterminated.
Prisoners were reportedly held in five detention camps including Atlit and Sarafand, in addition to jails that Israel inherited from the British Mandate and temporary detention camps set up in Palestinian villages from which residents were forced out.
As there was not a policy for detention by Israel during and directly after 1948 war, Qaraqe added, execution of prisoners was common and revealed through documentation of many group executions carried out for detained civilians.
Large numbers of Palestinians who were left homeless, ran away from massacres, as well as those arrested were the reason that Israeli leaders built detention camps.
Camps were run on the basis that any prisoner that needed to be released or ‘gotten rid of’ must first receive approval by an intelligence officer, Qaraqe said, adding that speedy executions without trial were often carried out in these camps.
Qaraqa said that detention camps were supervised by members of the Irgun, Haganah and Stern groups whose brutal treatment of Palestinian detainees was well-documented.
• Last Thursday Israeli forces shot three Palestinian children with live bullets during severe clashes that erupted between soldiers and school students in the Jabal al-Tawil neighbourhood of al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank, witnesses said.
The injured children were taken to a hospital for treatment, while Israeli forces detained six Palestinian children, all under 10 years of age, and took them to the nearby Psagot settlement.
Israeli forces had reportedly set up an ambush for the students prior to the clashes, locals added.
Palestinian children routinely come under live fire and excessive force from Israeli forces, according to children’s rights group Defence for Children International, Palestine.
Israeli forces shot and injured at least 30 children across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the beginning of this year as of March 24, 2015, DCIP reported.
• Israeli settlers on Thursday pelted Palestinian cars with stones on a main road near the illegal Yitzhar settlement in Nablus.
Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank said that dozens of settlers threw stones at vehicles, while others set fire to land in the village of Burin south of Nablus.
Israeli forces closed the Huwwara checkpoint both ways following the incidents.
In 2014, there were 324 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
• The Israeli civil administration issued an order on Wednesday to completely demolish an electricity grid near the Qasra village in southern Nablus, 48 hours after the village council was delivered demolition orders.
In addition to the ordered demolition of the electricity grid, the demolition notices were given for a home and water well in the village belonging to Said Mimr Said and Abd al-Hamid Youssef Khrewish, Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank.
Meanwhile, Jewish-only settlements are given funding and military protection and are often connected to expansive electricity grids that Palestinians in the same area are forbidden access to.