Palestinians are commemorating the 69th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands and displaced, with activities in various areas in the Palestinian territories and abroad.
Marches took place earlier today in a number of cities in the occupied West Bank, including Ramallah, Nablus and Bethlehem.
In in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, Israeli forces attacked a Nakba march at midday, hospitalising at least three people, with one march participant saying that it is one of “the worst (tear) gas experiences” they had witnessed in the city in five years, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported on Monday.
More activities and marches are set to take place later Monday in occupied Eastern Jerusalem and in Arab villages and towns inside Israel.
Israeli forces were prepared to counter any activities and demonstrations declaring a state of emergency in the occupied West Bank Monday, as well raided the bank earlier, arresting number of activists and a former Palestinian minister, state news agency MENA reported citing Israeli media Monday.
At least seven Palestinians were injured after Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and teargas at the march in Beit El military checkpoint, the northern entrance to Ramallah, local sources told Palestinian news agency WAFA Monday.
Earlier on Monday, thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah city centre on the anniversary of the Nakba, the news agency reported.
Many wore black T-shirts with the number 1948 written on the back marking the year when Israel was created in Palestine at the expense of its Palestinian Arab population, while some marchers also carried a large Palestinian flag and a black flag with the words “we shall return” written on it in Arabic.
At the gathering, speakers narrated the history of the Nakba and its political implications, promising that the right of return for the refugees will never be compromised on for the sake of any political solution.
A group of Palestinian activists also blocked off commuter roads leading to Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank for the second day on Monday morning, demanding more solidarity actions to support Palestinian prisoners on a Hunger strike at both official and popular levels, Ma'an reported.
In addition a mass hunger strike by prisoners in Israeli prisons entered its 29th day, with prisoners facing a harsh crackdown from Israeli prison authorities as the medical conditions of the hunger strikers continued to decline.
Palestinian embassies around the world also organised activities marking the day, as did pro-Palestinian activists.
For example, hundreds of Palestinian and German activists took part in marches and activities in the cities of Berlin, Dortmund, and Hamburg.
In Brighton activists organised a stall to mark the day.
Our #Nakba stall today in central #Brighton remembering 69 years of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people #BDS pic.twitter.com/CRSMoDhhBH
— Brighton PSC (@BrightonPSC) May 13, 2017
‘Pain, loss, and injustice’
As Palestinians worldwide mark 69 years since their uprooting from their homeland, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said this anniversary means "an ongoing journey of pain, loss, and injustice," WAFA reported.
“Our nation marking 69 years of the Nakba, our national catastrophe, is symbolised in our exile and the systematic denial of our rights,” said Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO’s Executive Committee.
Erekat said the Nakba is also the time to remember massacres of the Palestinian civilian population committed by Zionists before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
“In order to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, it is important that Israel recognises the Nakba and apologises for it,” he said.
"In that sense, we call upon the Israeli government to open all its 1948 archives and show their own nation the truth of what was done to our people, including its ethnic cleansing policies and the policy of shooting to kill Palestinians that attempted to return home,” said the PLO official.
“It's also the responsibility of the international community to achieve the Palestinian right to self-determination and to solve all final status issues, including a just resolution of the refugee issue, based on international law and relevant UN resolutions,” Erekat concluded.
In the Gaza Strip, a march in Khan Younis Camp was organised by the Higher Committee to Commemorate the Nakba to commemorate both 1948 and the current prisoners’ hunger strike.
On Saturday, Hamas also organised in the Gaza Strip a march to commemorate the Nakba and to support hunger strike prisoners, Ma'an reported.
Hamas official Hani Islayim said that the march aimed to tell “hypocrites” that “we are staying in Palestine.”
“On the 69th anniversary, we say that the land is ours, Jerusalem is ours and Palestine is ours,” Islayim said.
In a press release on Monday reported by MENA, Hamas said that armed resistance is the real thing that will stop Israeli occupation, referring to the right to return that will not fall with time, and that Palestinian people will not give up on any part of their full lands.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian media ministry said in statement Sunday that the Nakba is still “a bleeding wound and a terrorism unprecedented in history,” and called for putting all murderers on trial.
The statement added that "the Nakba and the massacres that followed is a strong evidence that the Zionist gangs that built Israel practiced genocide against Palestinians."
Around five million Palestinian refugees, either in the occupied Palestinian territory or in the diaspora, still call for the application of to their internationally recognised right of return to their homes and villages in present-day Israel, a right which has been enshrined in international law following the adoption of United Nations Resolution 194.