Nakba commemorations begin in Israel/Palestine, activists prepare for worldwide marches

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Return March Galilee participants
The 14th annual “March of Return” was held between two Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948, al-Damun and al-Ruways. (Photo: Jill Kestler D’Amours, Alternative Information Center )

Thousands mark Palestinian Nakba in Galilee
[photos] AIC 12 May — Several thousand Palestinians and their supporters gathered in the Galilee on Israeli Independence Day, 10 May, to mark the Nakba,the forced exodus of approximately 750,000 Palestinians from their homes before and during the creation of Israel in 1948. The 14th annual “March of Return” was held between two Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948, al-Damun and al-Ruways. Participants in the march waved Palestinian flags, chanted for the Palestinian right of return and held signs displaying the names of the over 400 Palestinian villages that were destroyed during the Nakba.

Palestinians commemorate 63rd anniversary of the Nakba
MEMO 12 May EXCLUSIVE PICTURES The Islamic University of Gaza hosted an exhibition commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba [The Palestinian Catastrophe], with various pictures and cartoons depicting the forced migration and expulsion of Palestinians from their land and from thriving villages and bustling cities. The nationwide massacres, killings and terrorism that Palestinians suffered during the Nakba have had a lasting effect on the physical and social landscape of Palestine today. Children opened the exhibition with a symbolic walk from the UN headquarters in Gaza to the IUG, carrying placards and large keys signifying the right of return of all Palestinian children to the home of their parents and grandparents. The placards contained the message “We are returning to…” and the names of towns their families had originated from.

Security forces on high alert ahead of ‘Nakba Day’
Ynet 12 May — Defense establishment reinforces troops deployment in Jerusalem, West Bank ahead of weekend preceding Palestinian day of mourning over Israel’s inception.

Video: Return to Palestine — Take to the streets on Nakba – May 15, 2011
It is true that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab people resisted the establishment of a racist regime in Palestine. And they still do. It is only normal. If anyone comprehends the extent of the injustice that has been committed against the Palestinian people, they would not even ask why they are so determined in their pursuit of justice. And if anyone knows the history of the Palestinian struggle, they would realize that this people will continue to resist in every form until they see the justice they have so longed for restored.
On 15 May 2011, the world is invited to express its understanding, solidarity and support to a people that has resisted… and continues to do so, for Justice in Palestine.

Return to Palestine March May 15
[English after Arabic] In Lebanon the Return to Palestine March will set out towards the Palestinian/Lebanese borders on Sunday May 15, 2011, on the day commemorating the 1948 Nakba. The March will include various Palestinian and Lebanese civil and popular organizations and associations, professional associations, federations, NGOs, political parties and groups, in addition to independent activists from different regions and refugee camps around Lebanon.
This March will take place in order to affirm the right of all Palestinians to return to their homeland and their properties, from which they were forcibly uprooted in 1948 by Zionist terrorism and violence.
This popular and peaceful March will include thousands of Returnees from various refugee camps and their partners and supporters from diverse groups representing the Lebanese political and social spectra.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Israel ‘exploiting Jordan Valley resources’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 12 May — Israel has systematically exploited the resources of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, favoring settlers over Palestinians, an Israeli rights group said on Thursday. A report [see below] by B’Tselem said Israel dominated the land, water resources and even tourist sites along the strip of land which runs along the eastern flank of the West Bank, in what appeared to be a prelude to a de facto annexation of territory … B’Tselem said the 9,400 Jewish settlers living there were able to develop intensive agriculture because they received water allocation equal to one third of the water accessible to the West Bank’s 2.5 million Palestinian residents … It also accused Israel of taking control of 77.5 percent of land in the area, including major tourist attractions like the northern shores of the Dead Sea.

Dispossession and exploitation – Israel’s policy in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea
B’Tselem report — Israel exploits the natural resources there more than in the rest of the West Bank and prevents Palestinians from using most of the area’s land and water resources. [3 sections, with video]

Demolition warnings to Walaja residents
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 May — Demolition orders were handed out to seven families in Al-Walaja, the village closest to the ongoing construction of Israel’s separation wall. Village council member Adel Al-Atrash told Ma‘an that the orders were handed out on Wednesday night, and residents were given 72 hours to appeal to the courts to stop the demolition process … Residents of the southern West Bank village are overwhelmingly refugees, driven from the historic Al-Walaja, located just across the valley from the current population center. The village was, in 1948, the second largest land area after Jerusalem, but was cut down to one third the size when Israel declared statehood that year.

Palestinian home rebuilt by UK volunteers served 72-hour demolition notice
MEMO 12 May — … Israel has since 1967 demolished over 25 homes in the village. This home was originally demolished seven years ago and three generations of the Aburizeq family have had to live together in an old damp concrete portacabin in a nearby refugee camp. As the home was rebuilt in April, the mother of the family wept as she saw her home rising again after seven years. She said, “I was dead and you have given me back my life.”

Palestinian trees destroyed in ongoing settler vandalism
AIC 12 May — In the early morning of 12 May 2011, Palestinian farmers discovered that during the night unknown perpetrators had vandalized ten olive trees in the Humra valley, near At -Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The trees and the land belong to At-Tuwani resident Salman Jibrin Raba‘i … A spokesperson for the Raba‘i family remarked that, due to the late spring rains, they had expected a good olive harvest this year. One olive tree in the area produces an average of twelve kilos of olive oil. Therefore, the cumulative loss of these damaged trees’ production is a substantial financial blow to the family. The property owners called the police in order to lodge a formal complaint. Due to numerous prior similar incidents in the area, Palestinians suspect that the perpetrators are likely settlers from the nearby Havat Ma’on settlement outpost.

Video: Israeli army force 6 families out of their land in Amniyr, South Hebron Hills
Christian Peacemaker Teams — On Friday, May 6, the Israeli military declared the area of Amniyr, a Palestinian village south of Yatta, a closed military zone and chased away the families who own the land, after demolishing structures and trees on the land the day before. The demolitions occurred at 5 a.m. on Thursday, May 5, when the military destroyed six shacks and uprooted 150 olive trees in Amniyr. Photos available at:

Nablus checkpoint closed as settlers stone cars
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces closed the Nablus-area Huwwara military checkpoint Thursday afternoon, following incidents of rock-throwing that hit Palestinian cars, that local officials said was done by local settlers. Ghassan Doughlas, the Fatah official charged with monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said dozens of settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement threw rocks at Palestinian cars causing damages, but no injuries … An Israeli military spokeswoman said the checkpoint was closed for “routine activity” and said she was not sure when it would re-open for Palestinian vehicles.

Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or, democratic Israel at work / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 12 May — While we are still desperately concealing, denying and repressing our major ethnic cleansing of 1948 – over 600,000 refugees, some who fled for fear of the Israel Defense Forces and its predecessors, some who were expelled by force – it turns out that 1948 never ended, that its spirit is still with us … My colleague Akiva Eldar published what we have always known but for which we lacked the shocking figures he revealed: By the time of the Oslo Accords, Israel had revoked the residency of 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank. In other words, 14 percent of West Bank residents who dared to go abroad had their right to return to Israel and live here denied forever. In other words, they were expelled from their land and their homes. In other words: ethnic cleansing.


VIDEO: One day when children were children
Pal Monitor 12 May — Five buses containing 200 excited children pulled up at Ramallah’s old Ottoman Court building this Saturday around noon. The children were from villages where every Friday is devoted to popular resistance, and the goal was to give them a day of food, fun and games instead of fears of tear gas, Israeli soldiers, and arrests of family members … The kids came from the West Bank villages of Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, Nabi Saleh, and Ma‘sara and from the neighborhood of Silwan in Jerusalem. The three coordinators of the event got the idea for a children’s day off after seeing what the children go through in the villages where demonstrations and violent confrontations between their families and Israeli soldiers are a normal part of their everyday life … Week after week, the three friends saw children getting shot at with tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and sound grenades and have soldiers raid their homes.

IDF confirms sets dogs on illegal Palestinian laborers / Gideon Levy
Hundreds of Palestinian day-laborers who enter Israel without a permit have been facing a new threat recently – IDF soldiers at the separation fence are siccing dogs on them. Since the beginning of last month, soldiers with dogs have been lying in ambush near a breach in the fence, between the Bedouin refugee village Ramadin and Kibbutz Shoval in the Negev. Every night hundreds of West Bank Palestinians gather at this point to seek work the next day in the nearby Jewish and Bedouin communities … Ala Hawarin, 22, of Dahariya, was injured in the arm and thigh when a dog attacked him as he was crossing the fence line. He went to Hebron for treatment, where the doctors told him two of his fingers would remain paralyzed. When he went to file a police complaint the following day he was arrested.


Worker dies in Rafah tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — A 17-year-old tunnel worker died Thursday morning, after sustaining a massive electric shock while he was pulling goods through a smuggling tunnel underneath the Egyptian border. The incident occurred in the Rafah area, and police identified the teenager as Hassan Ash-Sha‘er, 17, from Khan Younis.

Shin Bet: Egypt doing little to stop Gaza arms smugglers
Ynet 12 May — New security agency report says Cairo’s grip on Gaza border lax; Strip’s militant groups’ weapon caches pose growing threat to Israel,7340,L-4068013,00.html

Gaza crossing open for limited goods import
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — An estimated 250-260 truckloads of goods will enter Gaza via the Strip’s sole operating crossing with Israel, officials told Palestinian liaison officer Raed Fattouh.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS — and opposition

Film Trailer – “The Wanted 18”
Long trailer for the Palestinian animated documentary film “The Wanted 18” — The most powerful army in the Middle East in the chase of 18 cows.

Background for the film: The cows of Beit Sahour
Beit Sahour, the town where I live, is famous throughout Palestine for its fierce devotion to independence and amazing use of nonviolence during the first intifada. Beit Sahour launched a community-wide tax strike in protest of the occupation. But more impressively, Beit Sahour managed to boycott every Israeli produce on the market. Sahouris met all their needs without relying on Israeli goods. All of their needs, that is, except milk, That’s where the cows of Beit Sahour come in. Here’s my friend Helen to tell the story.

VIDEO: ISM in Gaza 28 Apr
4 May — KHOZA‘A, Gaza Strip. A couple weeks after one its members was killed, the International Solidarity Movement is back at work in Gaza. Its activists are little known outside of the strip but inside the enclave they are very much appreciated by Palestinians, especially those who live in areas which other organizations do not cater to. By doing so ISM members often end up in very dangerous situation as our reporter found out.

Stay Human convoy enters Gaza
12 May 2011 | Vik2Gaza After leaving Cairo this morning at dawn, the 80 activists of the ‘Restiamo Umani’ convoy have entered Gaza at 4pm after crossing five Egyptian check-points. The convoy will remain in the Gaza strip until the 17 of May to meet the Palestinian people who day by day are trying to resist the Israeli military occupation. The convoy will also join the commemorations for the thirtieth day of Vittorio’s death and for Nakba, the day of the Palestinian catastrophe, which will take place between the 14 and the 15 of May.
Meanwhile, a second convoy, with over 100 buses, will leave from Tahir square in Cairo, the square that has become the symbol of recent popular revolutions in the Middle Aast , and will try to cross the Rafah pass on the 15 of May. This is a collective movement that wants to show full support to the fight of the Palestinian people for self-determination, to their everyday resistance against military occupation and to the right of all Palestinian refugees to come back to their land.

Egypt urges cancellation of pro-Palestinian march
CAIRO (AP) 12 May — Egypt is urging activists to cancel a rally aimed at crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip to show support for the Palestinians. In a statement Thursday, authorities called on activists to give priority to internal issues and “to prevent any repercussions that might result from this march.” … A Facebook campaign called for rallies Friday and a march toward the border on Sunday, called the “Sunday of Liberation.” 
Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood has come out in support of a rally in central Cairo on Friday but does not favor the march on Gaza.

Rift appears over Gaza flotilla report
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News 12 May — The U.N. panel investigating Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla faces a major stalemate, with Turkey threatening to drop out over wording in a draft report that it sees as favoring the Israeli view. Ankara’s strong reaction to the draft wording, which falls short of saying Israel violated international law in the raid last year, has delayed the announcement of the panel’s findings.

Center-right MEPs come out against new Gaza flotilla
JPost 12 May — 15 vessels, 1,500 people hope to break blockade at end of month … LONDON – Plans for a new protest flotilla to Gaza are “an act of provocation” against the State of Israel and should be strongly condemned by the European Union, two prominent members of the European Parliament said on Wednesday … The proposed flotilla was also criticized by EU foreign policy chief Ashton. Speaking in Strasbourg on Wednesday, she said living conditions in Gaza are “awful” in part owing to the Israeli blockade, but added: “I don’t consider a flotilla to be the right response.”

Congress members urge Erdoğan to prevent 2nd flotilla
JPost 12 May — Letter addressed to Turkish PM says: “If flotilla organizers carry out confrontational plans, Israelis will have little choice but to raid vessel” … Thirty-six members signed onto the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma).

Detention / Court action

Brother of female detainee targeted, family home raided
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) posted 12 May — A large force of Israeli troops raided the Shoyoukhi family’s home yesterday [8 May] in Silwan in search for 14-year old Mohammed Shoyoukhi. When troops failed to capture Mohammed (having spent the night at his sister’s house), his elder brother was arrested instead as a means of blackmailing Mohammed to present himself at the police station. The contents of the family home were reported to be damaged or even destroyed by raiding forces. Mohammed presented himself at the station later that day, accompanied by his mother. He was then subjected to a gruelling investigation alone after his mother was expelled from the room.

Israeli troops kidnap Hamas official Abu Tabana
Al-KHALIL, (PIC) 12 May — A large number of Israeli troops stormed the home of senior Hamas official Adnan Abu Tabana in Azzeitoun suburb southwest of Al-Khalil city and took him to an unknown destination after ransacking the house, Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies said on Thursday. Director of the center Fouad Al-Khafsh stated that Abu Tabana, one of the most prominent national figures in Al-Khalil city, gave a speech during a march he led a few days ago calling for bridging the rift in the Palestinian arena and releasing political detainees.
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Thursday nine Palestinian citizens at least in different West Bank areas. Local sources said the IOF stormed at an early hour today many villages and towns in the West Bank and forced children, women and everyone inside some homes to stay outdoors as they were ransacking them.

IOF kidnap three Palestinians from Bil‘in village
RAMALLAH, (PIC) 11 May — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Tuesday evening Bil’in village near Ramallah city and kidnapped three young men. Local sources said the troops entered the village through the gate of the eastern segregation wall and fired flash and smoke grenades during the raid. They broke into the house of Abdulfattah Bernat and rounded up his two sons, Mohamed and Ahmed, in addition to his brother-in-law Ahmed Betillow. The soldiers took the three young men blindfolded and in chains into the area behind the wall, according to the sources.

Bethlehem man marks 20 years in prison
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — The Gaza City detainees center announced Thursday the upcoming 20th anniversary of a Bethlehem man in Israeli custody. Adnan Al-Afandy, 40, from the Ad-Duheisheh refugee camp, was detained on May 13, 1992. He has another 10 years to serve on his sentence, on charges of belonging to the Islamic Jihad movement and of stabbing two settlers during the First Intifada. His first 70 days of detention were spent in interrogation, during which period he was kept in solitary confinement

State drops charges against rightist
Ynet 12 May — The State Prosecutor’s Office withdrew the charges it pressed against the extreme right-wing activist Noam Federman “for a lack of evidence” on Thursday.,7340,L-4067797,00.html

Political / Diplomatic / International

Source: Abbas new PM, Fayyad, Haniyeh deputies
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 May — President Mahmoud Abbas will hold the post of prime minister in the coming technocrat transitional government, sources close to the matter have told Ma‘an. Current caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh – or an alternate Hamas figure chosen by the party – will both act as deputies to Abbas, the source revealed Wednesday night, adding that Fayyad will also assume the role of Minister of Finance.  Formerly rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reportedly agreed to the appointments, with the proviso that both former prime ministers will hold the same political weight within the new cabinet.

Abbas determined to retain Fayyad as PM of Fatah-Hamas cabinet, report says
Haaretz 12 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Egyptian officials that incumbent Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is his only candidate to head the burgeoning Palestinian unity cabinet, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported on Thursday.

Hamas adviser: PM should be Gaza-based
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 May — The prime minister of the new transitional Palestinian government should be based in the Gaza Strip, an adviser to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday. After confirming reports that a meeting between Fatah and Hamas would take place next week to agree the members of the transitional government, Yousef Rizqa went on to say that the seat of government should not be solely in Ramallah.

Abbas: I won’t run for president again
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 May — President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated Tuesday that he would not run for president again, telling the PLO leadership in Ramallah that he was “serious” about his decision … Abbas also said he was serious about the reconciliation deal with Hamas despite doubts.

Palestinian official: Stalled peace talks would make intifada hard to stop
Haaretz 12 May — Speaking with Army Radio ahead of planned Nakba day protests across West Bank, Fatah man Abbas Zaki says the Palestinian street will act according to how hopeful it is of achieving peace.

Turkey’s Erdoğan: Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist group
Haaretz 12 May — Hamas is not a terror organization, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with U.S. television late Wednesday, saying he felt the recently penned Palestinian reconciliation agreement was an essential step toward Mideast peace. Erdoğan’s comments came one day after Hamas Gaza strongman Mahmoud Zahar said that while his organization would accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, it would never recognize Israel, as a result of the damage such a move would do to Palestinian refugees in the “diaspora.”

Berlusconi: No to unilateral PA bid
Ynet 12 May — Congratulating Israel on 63 Independence Day, Italian PM emphasizes support, says unilateral recognition wrong way to strike agreements between nations,7340,L-4067510,00.html

Other news

Israeli Arab sector has fastest growth potential says Bank Hapoalim CEO
Haaretz 12 May — The Israeli business community is paying increasing attention to the potential of business development among Israel’s Arab population … Bank Hapoalim currently has 19 branches in Arab population centers and plans to open five more in the coming year.

Video: ‘Let’s pull Shalit out of Gaza ourselves’
Ynet 12 May — Ultimatum issued to Israel, Hamas in video uploaded to internet. Group of four ad men threaten to break through Erez crossing if no prisoner swap seal is struck by June 21,7340,L-4067831,00.html

60% of Israelis satisfied with State
Ynet 12 May — Most secular, traditional and religious Jews believe State fits their values, but only 21% of haredim feel the same way, Ynet-Gesher poll shows. Fifty-five percent of population say maintaining Jewish majority is most important thing … Each of the four sectors ranked “securing a Jewish majority” first. This was the response of 52% of seculars, 64% of traditional Jews, 58% of religious Jews and 42% of haredim.,7340,L-4067492,00.html

US Christian group warns Palestinians of apocalypse
[photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 May — At least half a dozen billboards recently went up across the West Bank warning Palestinians of an impending judgment day, slated according to the signs, for May 21.  At the entrance to Birzeit, and several roads leading into the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jericho, the signs — some in English, some in Arabic — advise travelers to “cry unto God” and are directed to the website of the US-based religious group.

Analysis / Opinion

Israel’s security elite joins the opposition / J.J. Goldberg
Forward, 11 May — It probably won’t surprise you to hear that the leaders of Israel’s security establishment, the people who’ve led the fight against the state’s enemies for decades, are more frightened now than they’ve been in a long time. You might be shocked, though, to hear what’s got them in a panic … What scares them most is their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. How do I know? Because they’re saying so, right out in public, some in broad hints, others in just so many words … There are 18 living ex-chiefs: seven Mossad, six IDF and five Shin Bet. No fewer than eight of them are actively working against Netanyahu in one way or another. Another four have made their alarm publicly clear, though they aren’t aggressively campaigning right now. That’s 12, if you’re keeping score. Two of them have openly called Netanyahu’s policies and leadership a threat to Israel’s future — just in the past few weeks.

All Netanyahu needs is to say one magic number: 1967 / Ari Shavit
Haaretz 12 May — The international community is tensely waiting to hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words to the U.S. Congress in 12 days’ time. Yet it will not be words that determine how the speech is received, but rather a number. If Netanyahu does not specifically mention the number 1967, the world will reject his speech from the outset. Israel’s future hangs today on the prime minister’s ability to utter the four digits he has not yet uttered – one, nine, six, seven: 1967. Netanyahu? 1967? Not a chance – unless he realizes the seriousness of the situation. Unless he realizes that our backs are to the wall and we must change direction. Unless he rises above himself and becomes a statesman and a leader. (archive)

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