A series of events will kick off on Wednesday in the Palestinian territories – and worldwide – to mark the 65th anniversary of the Nakba ('catastrophe'), when some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by Jewish terrorist gangs in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
Palestinians will mark the day with peaceful rallies and marches in cities throughout the Israel-occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, Ramallah, Birzeit, Hebron, Qalqiliya, Tubas, Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem.
In the West Bank, activities will include panel discussions, film screenings, art exhibitions and theatre performances. Young Palestinian scout groups will also tour several cities and put on performances.
Some activities have already begun. On Tuesday, a march – led by children of the Duheisha refugee camp – made its way through the city of Hebron. Marchers, however, were eventually tear-gassed by Israeli police, according to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Palestine.
On 10 May, residents of Al-Walaja village marched to the area of Ain Joezeh, where Israeli occupation forces had just built a 'gate' effectively cutting the town off from the rest of Bethlehem and converting it into an 'open-air prison,' according to the event's Facebook page.
And in the West Bank's Beit Sahour, a meeting was held to discuss the local Israeli military governor's recent decision to allow Jewish settlers to paint over old Jordanian army buildings in Ush Ghrab.
Nakba commemoration activities will not be limited to the Palestinian territories.
In London, demonstrations are planned on Downing Street, while another protest rally – under the banner of 'End Palestine's ongoing catastrophe' – will be held outside the British Parliament building on 18 May.
A week-long series of Nakba-related events will also take place in Ireland from 11 to 17 May.
Pakistanis, too, have observed a day of solidarity with the Palestinians as part of a week-long campaign. The Iranian Fars News Agency reported that Pakistani protestors had urged the international community to push for the return of more than 5 million Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homelands.
According to a Forced Migration Review report, estimates for Palestinians displaced in 1948 range from several hundred thousand – about three quarters of the entire Palestinian population at the time – to nearly one million. Currently, there are more than 5 million displaced Palestinians worldwide, mostly concentrated in Arab countries.
Despite numerous UN resolutions, Israel continues to deny Palestinian refugees the right to return to their traditional homeland. Moreover, Israeli continues to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land, creating 'facts on the ground' that make any return of refugees untenable.