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Thousands protest across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba

Israel/Palestine
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BETHLEHEM — Thousands of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip participated in massive demonstrations on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes when the state of Israel was established in 1948.

More than six million Palestinians, whether in the occupied Palestinian territory or in the diaspora, still call for the application of their internationally recognized right of return to their homes and villages in present-day Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, the weeks-long “Great March of Return” protest came to a climax, as the death toll reached 61 overnight — the youngest killed an identified as 8-month old girl who died of tear gas inhalation.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces suppressed protests largely with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and sound bombs, though some cases of live ammunition were reported.

‘We will never give up our right of return’

Palestinian protesters set fire to tires and dumpsters in Bethlehem, the Israeli military tower visible in the background (Photo: Akram al Wara)

In the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, around 600 Palestinian protesters marched peacefully from the southern end of the city until they reached the Israeli separation wall and a permanent military base and watchtower on the northern end of the city.

Protesters waved palestinian flags and black flags with images of keys saying “return,” as they chanted slogans saying “America is the head of the snake,” and “Jerusalem is Palestinian, and will stay that way forever.”

Dozens of Israeli soldiers were deployed outside the wall, and almost immediately dispersed the protesters with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Protesters remained in the area for hours, as some youth burned tires and through stone at the soldiers.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 12 Palestinians in Bethlehem were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, while 33 others were treated for severe tear-gas inhalation.

Mondoweiss spoke to several posters, who expressed their frustrations with 70 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, and the ongoing killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

Azhar Abu Srour, a Palestinian refugee who was at the protest, spoke to Mondoweiss as she waved a Palestinian flag, as rubber-coated steel bullets whizzed on the main road behind her.

“I am here as a refugee, to demand my right of return to my homeland, Beit Nattif, which we were expelled from 70 years ago,” she said. “I am also here to protest against the massacre of our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza, who have been protesting for weeks, for this same basic right of return.”

Abu Srour expressed frustrations with the inaction of the international community on the Palestinian refugee issue, saying that “it has been 70 years, this issue should have been solved by now.”

“But even if it is for 70 more years, or 100 years, I will never give up this right, and neither will my children, or any future Palestinian generations of refugees, until we return back to our lands.”

Dozens injured in Hebron, Ramallah protests

Palestinian young men roll tires towards front line of protests (Photo: Akram al-Wara)

Israeli forces heavily suppressed protests in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah for the second day in a row.

According to early afternoon reports from the Palestinian Red Crescent, 23 Palestinians were injured from tear gas inhalation, while 30 others were injured from rubber-coated bullets, two of which were reportedly hit in the face.

Meanwhile, local media reported that seven Palestinians had been hit with live ammunition during ramallah-area protests, including one who was shot in the back and reported to be in critical condition.

In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, at least one Palestinian was reported to have been injured with a live bullet in the Bab al-Zawiya area of the city, close to Hebron’s Old City.

Two Palestinians killed in northern Gaza

A Palestinian boy watches as clouds of smoke separate protesters from dozens of armed soldiers (Photo: Akram al-Wara)

The Gaza Ministry of Health reported at 8 p.m. that two Palestinians had been killed during clashes east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the total death toll from Monday and Tuesday’s protests to at least 63 Palestinians.

One of the two slain Palestinians was identified as Nasser Ghorab, 51.

The ministry added that 417 people were wounded during Tuesday’s protests, with injuries ranging from live ammunition to tear gas.

About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia freelance journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. You can find her on twitter @yumna_patel.

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3 Responses

  1. Kay24
    May 16, 2018, 6:31 am

    Apparently they marched in protest in Tel Aviv too. Thank you Trump, Jared, and Netanyahu, for waking up the giant. Every time Israel massacres innocent civilians, who are powerless, the UN, the Arab councils, and everyone who can do something, convenes, for an emergency meeting, and then nothing happens, and as we saw yet again, the US vetoed the resolution to condemn this carnage. Nikki Hayley did not have the decency to even listen to the Palestinians representative, she arrogantly walked out of the room. When will we see some productive results, and the killers being held responsible for their massacre? When will the other nations do the right thing for these poor people?
    Haven’t they suffered for too long? Time for BDS.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hundreds-israel-beyond-protest-killings_us_5afb6d48e4b0a59b4dfe7ff8

  2. Citizen
    May 16, 2018, 12:03 pm

    I have some relatives who live in South Carolina; they are totally oblivious to Nikki’s outrageous statements reflecting total subservience to @AIPAC. Ditto re their senator Lindsey Grahm. Not a clue. These relatives are individually good people, the kind you would like as neighbors, honest, hard-working, and they value education and humanist sentiment. They cultivate liberal values; but not one has ever exhibited the slightest interest in US foreign policy. I’ve tried, believe me. It’s the same with my relatives in Florida. The sole exception is my eldest sister, who supports the Palestinian POV. Her political hero has always been Ralph Nader.

    • genesto
      May 16, 2018, 6:07 pm

      There are only two ways I can think of to strike a chord with the American public. The first is to show them, up close and personal, the suffering these people have endured these 70 years at the hands of the Zionist criminals. They need to see and hear their individual stories and these stories need to be related to the support we give to the Jewish state towards perpetrating this suffering. This has to be a message of your future tax dollars at work in bringing about suffering that give us less, not more, security in the world.

      The second way is to relate the oppression of the Palestinians to the wars of choice currently being conducted throughout the Middle East – wars that have cost this country treasure (about 7 trillion dollars and counting – money that should be going to help rebuild our failing nation instead) – as well as blood (thousands of our soldiers who have died needlessly). This, of course, pales by comparison to the millions who have been maimed, driven from their homes or killed from these conflicts. But, of course, I digress because we are talking about what resonates with the American public, and the loss of Middle Eastern lives, with few exceptions, does not.

      Look, this is still a hard sell, but it is all we have. I do believe that if, one day, we have enough of the mainstream media, as well as political leadership, on our side, we can get this message out in a way that WILL make a difference. Our struggle is to continue to strive to reach that point.

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