Nakba Day protests attacked by Israeli forces

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A 102-year-old Palestinian woman holds the key of her home in the village of Iraq al-Manshiyya, in what is now Occupied Palestine, on 14 May 2013 in al-Aroub Palestinian refugee camp, just north the West Bank town of Hebron. (Photo: AFP - Hazem Bader)

Published Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thousands of Palestinians marked the 65th anniversary of the Nakba Wednesday, as Israeli forces violently repressed demonstrations in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Nakba, or catastrophe, refers to the 1948 campaign to cleanse Palestine of non-Jews, which drove more than 750,000 Palestinians away from their homes.

Israeli police violently attacked a protest in Jerusalem, beating demonstrators and spraying them with “skunk” waste water. Footage on al-Mayadeen showed a member of the Israeli police forces shoving a man on crutches who was walking up a flight of stairs.

According to witnesses, protesters took over a police station in Jerusalem, although there was no official confirmation.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out on Wednesday around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound as Israeli rightists tried to enter the holy site.

Witnesses told Ma'an news agency that 17 Israelis tried to enter the compound area via Chain Gate, before local Palestinians obstructed them. A group of Israeli rightists and Palestinians began pushing each other, before Israeli forces intervened to protect the Israelis, witnesses said.

In the West Bank, Palestinians also gathered near the Ofer prison facility, where the Israeli army targeted them with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. Dozens of demonstrators were wounded in the attack.

Israeli forces broke up a rally at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank, Wafa news agency reported. The army used tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets against the attendees, who responded by throwing rocks.

Demonstrations took place in numerous Palestinian and Israeli-occupied towns, including Nablus, Yaffa and Gaza City.

In Ramallah, thousands marched holding flags and large symbolic keys chanting "the right of return will not die."

Palestinian officials attended a commemoration event in Bethlehem on Tuesday, reaffirming the continuation of the Palestinian struggle.

Fatah revolutionary council member Mohammad Abu Alya called the right of return a "sacred right that we will never give up on."

Alluding to an infamous quote by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who had said of Palestinian refugees that “the old will die and the young will forget," Abu Alya said:

"The number of both old and young people here today is a confirmation that we will never forget our rights, which are guaranteed under international law. We will return to our homes, cities and villages no matter how long it takes."

Of the estimated 11 million Palestinians in the world, roughly half live outside of Palestine. According to United Nations figures, 5.3 million Palestinians are registered as refugees with the global organization, making them the largest refugee population in the world.

(Al-Akhbar, Ma’an, AP)

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