Every year on May 15th Palestinians and Israelis share the same historic day. For Israelis it marked the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation in 1948.
Today also served as Nakba Day, the 70th anniversary of when 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes, and villages surrounding Israel’s creation.
Palestinians in Gaza were also mourning their dead on Tuesday, after 61 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire along the Gaza border. Many lanes across Gaza city streets were blocked off by a blue tarpaulin tents. Men were seen sitting sadly on chairs mourning the death.
After more than 25,000 days of the Nakba, Gaza refugees have raised their voices through the Great March of Return. A day after the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war, I asked protesters what they were thinking about on this Nakba Day.
Mostafa Manasra, 24, builder
“Why does such a young man like me fail to find pure drinking water easily or to receive a 24 hour power supply? This wasted time and money should go to develop my house building skills, people here are being ground for basic needs. Israel wants to drown us in a never-ending daily crisis so we set aside our struggle for our human rights. So, I must return to Bait Daras village, it is my grandfather’s home, to live in dignity.”
Muna Rasheed, 50, social work instructor
“This year will be the year of return to Yibna, not a Nakba’s day more. Since we have the rights to return to our homeland, we will keep protesting and demanding. One day the whole world might comply with that demand when recognizing that Israel must end its occupation and recognize to establish our state, unlike the powerless Palestinian Authority’s style.”
Abu Fouad, 65, tailor
“I am optimistic since we delivered our message of long weeks of peaceful protests. Meanwhile, Israel responds by killing nearly 100 people. This is enough evidence to show who really should be backed to give back his stolen rights. It is our turn to live free of occupation. I want to go back again to al-Qubayba. I think this world still has a little honor to help us towards independence.”
Mahmoud Abu Ghanima, 26, legs amputated by an Israeli drone in 2008
“Coming to such a protest to demand our normal rights to have an airport and a seaport. Why am I prohibited from travel aboard? I really would feel shame if I have a chance to meet someone from the outer world.. then he might think I am just a scary orangutan who does not know anything, but what is written in the books. I want to try to travel. Is not my right to feel free and behave like a normal human being? But those dreams are forbidden once you live under occupation”.
Suzan al-Zaza, 45, chair of an orphan association
“In this regrettable day, the Israeli are cheering up with red wine after shedding our blood and opening the new U.S. embassy in our Jerusalem. But we have nothing to do but being more immovable to the last drop of blood. No problem, shedding more blood could be a message to Trump that recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would turn into a curse and he will be dropped as history’s rubbish.”
Yahya Shallah, 40, painter
“Even if we would be forced to eat the sand, freedom would come closer. Even if we failed to return to Haifa, then our children and grandchildren will do so. So, counting the years is not a problem. One day everything will be changed. Injustice and oppression are not going to stay forever. Geography and history are always changing.”
Sha’biah Ashour, 66, mother of a son killed in 2008
“I hope Trump will become paralyzed. I went to Jerusalem one time when I was 11; I always cry silently when I see the city on the television. All I need is to pray over there and return to Jaffa. But it seems impossible for a woman my age. I hope to see Awad (her son, 21) become a groom in my lifetime, but all doors are closed in his life.”
Abrar al-Banna, 20, journalism student
“My 97-year-old grandfather used to tell me the story of his championship in Jaffa. He was a great and popular wrestler and has a good memory. Our people in Gaza need to live again, since this miserable life under Egyptian-Israeli blockade. I have four brothers who all are unemployed. I think this would not happen in any country, but in Gaza is normal, since we are like slaves who wait for drops of water to drink or pieces of bread to eat.”