Over 80 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces near Ramallah on Tuesday, medics said, as protesters commemorated the Nakba, or catastrophe, of their exile in 1948.
After a mass rally in Ramallah’s Clock Square, protesters headed to Israel’s Ofer detention center and the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem to commemorate the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the founding of the state of Israel.
Medics said 63 Palestinians were injured outside Ofer prison and 21 were hurt at Qalandiya as Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said forces used riot dispersal means at protesters hurling rocks.
Earlier, thousands marched from the late President Yasser Arafat’s tomb toward Clock Square carrying Palestinian and black flags and banners demanding the right of return and national unity.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad addressed the rally and said there would be no peace without the right of return for refugees and the release of all Palestinian prisoners.
Senior PLO official Wasel Abu Yusef told protesters that Palestinians would never cede the right to return.
In Gaza City, thousands of demonstrators from all factions headed to UN headquarters carrying Palestinian flags.
Hamas lawmaker Musheer al-Masri told protesters the right of refugees to return "will not be forgotten or bargained for because it is a right for all Palestinians."
"Sixty-four years after the Nakba, we stand here while occupation is still sitting heavily on our land committing massacres against our people," al-Masri said.
He also recalled Britain’s historic role in the Nakba and accused the US of complicity in continuing the tragedy by its repeated vetoes of resolutions in the UN.
Senior Fatah leader Zakariyya Al-Agha also called for the right of return.
"The Palestinian people insist on their right to return to the Palestinian territory occupied in 1948," he told demonstrators.
Meanwhile in Nablus in the northern West Bank, hundreds of protesters marched from Shuhada Square toward the offices of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
Tayseer Nasrallah, coordinator for Nakba events, told demonstrators the United Nations must resolve the plight of refugees.
"Our message today to the UN after 64 years of Nakba is to stop the suffering. Many peoples have suffered less than the Palestinian people but the UN has solved their problems."
A delegation of local officials, including Nablus governor Jibrin al-Balro, delivered a letter to UNRWA complaining of a shortage of services in refugee camps.
The letter called on the UN to take legal and humanitarian responsibility for Palestinian refugees, al-Balro told Ma’an.
"We came today to stress the right of return which was approved by the UN," he added.
In Jenin, thousands of protesters held up the names of Palestinian villages and towns destroyed in 1948 and waved Palestinian flags.
Newly-appointed governor Talal Dweikat said Palestinians would not give up on their right to return or their right to a state.