Thousands of Palestinians marched and rallied in Gaza this morning.
The events marked Nakba Day, an annual protest of the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians driven from lands now claimed by Israel in 1948.
In a statement, the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights said:
Of the 11.4 million Palestinians worldwide, 66% are forcible displaced, (refugees and internally displaced people) and over half live in the Shatat (forced exile). Instead of an event relegated to history, the Nakba continues into its 65th year – the central source for the annual increase of these displacement statistics.
In the past year, for example, Israeli colonization, occupation and apartheid have targeted the indigenous presence of Palestinians particularly in Jerusalem, Area C of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip Buffer Zone and the Naqab. On 6 May 2013, Israel approved the Prawer Plan, which threatens to forcibly displace up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab. On the same day, Israel issued 11 home demolition orders in Deir Nidham village near Ramallah, which, if carried out, will make 40 Palestinians homeless. On large and small scales, the displacement of the ongoing Nakba repeats the original crime and tragedy producing Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons annually.
Ongoing forcible displacement targets Palestinians residing on both sides of the Green Line: in the 1967 occupied territory and on the Israeli side of the “1949 Armistice Line”, as well as those living in enforced exile. Nevertheless, the Palestinian people remain steadfast in their struggle to end the systematic violations of their human rights, political and national rights, and to practice their right of return.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and one of its founders was quoted as saying: “The old will die and the young will forget,” yet time has proven him wrong. The young generation of the descendants of Palestinian refugees is still clinging to the glimpse of hope of return. One can notice this by asking one of the many kids playing in the alleys of Palestine’s many refugee camps about his/her original village. They will respond with the names of villages and cities from which their parents and grandparents were expelled. “Yibna, Qastina, Breer, Aqer, Yaffa, Joura, Majdal, Swafeer, Barwqa, Zarnouqa, Beer Alsaba, and Lod,” they would respond.
Israel marks the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 as its “Day of Independence”. This contradicts the basic historical facts about what happened and is still happening in Palestine. Ethnically cleansing 531 Palestinian villages, towns and cities is never “independence”. It is a crime on a great scale that was committed against the real owners of the land, Palestinians, in a time of weakness.
Any negotiated settlement that does not guarantee the right of return will not last long. No force can prevent a refugee from returning home.
The right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, with compensation for their losses, remains a goal of every Palestinian faction, as well as a demand of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.