Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) – Palestinians are marking on Tuesday 64 years since predominantly European colonizers wiped their country off the map, cleansed the land of their villages, and brutally installed the state of Israel.
Nakba Day – meaning “catastrophe” – commemorates the 750,000 to 800,000 native Palestinians that were either driven from their lands by force or fled as Jewish colonizers with British backing violently swept the territory to proclaim a state of their own.
Around 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind, and now number about 1.3 million people, or some 20 percent of the population. This does not include the Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank or besieged Gaza Strip.
Roughly 5,000 people assembled at the late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah, with many said to be continuing a march toward Ofer Prison in Beituniya.
Clashes had already begun with Israeli occupation troops at Ofer Prison in the morning, continuing well into the afternoon, with hundreds wounded from tear gas and rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Speaking to Al-Akhbar by phone, an eyewitness said he saw one woman “incapacitated” and “completely unconscious” as Israeli forces showered the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Other rallies were taking place throughout the West Bank, including the Qalandia checkpoint.
The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which represents Palestinian communities in Israel, has called for a general strike and for Arab citizens to visit the sites of former Palestinian villages.
Israel maintains an occupation of the West Bank, while discriminating against Palestinians within Israel.
Illegal Jewish settlements continue to expand in the occupied West Bank in defiance of international law, with Israel accused of apartheid against the Palestinian population.
In Lebanon, the coalition of Palestinian Forces called for a march in the Shatila, home to thousands of Palestinian refugees, in Beirut.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad has also organized “The Return Festival” in Al-Rashidiyah refugee camp in the southern city of Tyre, while the Palestinian Institution for Human Rights led a rally in front of the ESCWA building in Riad al-Solh Square in central Beirut to condemn “the international silence towards the historical right of return of Palestinian people.”
There was no repeat of last year’s Nakba Day bloodbath, when Israeli troops killed 10 civilians on the south Lebanon border as thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese marched on the frontier.