Palestinians clash with Israeli troops in anniversary protestsMay 14th, 2008 - 10:28 pm ICT by admin
Ramallah/Gaza, May 14 (DPA) Marking the 60th anniversary of the loss of their villages in what is now Israel, hundreds of Palestinian refugees clashed with Israeli soldiers at military checkpoints in the West Bank Wednesday. Some six people were reported injured at the Qalandia checkpoint, north of Jerusalem, as the protesters threw stones at the Israeli troops, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Clashes also erupted at a number of other checkpoints, including Abu Dis and Shu’afat, to the east and north-east of Jerusalem, and Hawara, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
The Palestinian refugee camp residents were responding to calls by local leaders to stage a symbolic march to the homes they, their parents, or grandparents lost 60 years ago in what is now Israel.
Hundreds of residents of camps in Lebanon were also seen protesting near Israel’s northern border, waving Palestinian and UN’s flags.
Israel declared statehood May 14, 1948, a day before the expiry of Britain’s UN-mandate over historic Palestine.
It celebrated the 60th anniversary of its foundation last week, according to the Jewish calendar.
But although small-scale events began already Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority is to formally mark what is known to Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) Thursday, the anniversary of the start of the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948.
Arab states unwilling to accept Israel’s creation invaded the nascent state May 15, a day after it declared statehood. During the war, which lasted about a year, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes in what is now Israel and have since lived in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
The Palestinian refugee problem is one of the most sensitive topics under discussion in the revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
In Gaza, meanwhile, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told a conference commemorating the Nakba that his radical Islamic movement would “never” recognise Israel.
“On this occasion, the occasion of the Nakba, we reiterate that we will never recognise the raping enemy. We will never recognise Israel. We will never recognise Israel,” al-Zahar told a cheering audience.
“Our lands are not for sale or for trade, and the right of resistance is holy,” he said.
“Israel is going to disappear one day and the Palestinian people will remain to fully liberate all their occupied lands,” he told the conference, entitled “Sixty years since the Nakba - the return is imminent”.
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