Clashes have erupted as Palestinians marked the 71st anniversary of Nakba Day with demonstrations and marches across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, putting Israel on edge amid Eurovision song contest festivities.
The clashes broke out between hundreds of Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers along the eastern fence separating besieged Gaza Strip from Israel on Wednesday.
Nakba Day: #Palestinians mark 71st anniversary of 'catastrophe'
— Mumtaz Khan House Khetasarai (@mumtazpalace) May 15, 2019
Medics said three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli soldiers during the violence. Witnesses said the soldiers showered the demonstrators with foul-smelling water and also fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse them and keep them away from the fence.
“Nakba,” or catastrophe, commemorates the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were expelled in the war that led to the establishment of Israel in 1948.
The Hamas-run al-Aqsa radio station reported that thousands were expected to join the Nakba march in eastern Gaza, organized by the commission of the Great March of Return.
Today is the 71st anniversary of the #Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes, 78% of their land was stolen & 15,000 were killed in a series of mass massacres.
Today there are 6M Palestinians who are still refugees. pic.twitter.com/5mdrz6glYT
— Friends of Al Aqsa (@FriendsofAlAqsa) May 15, 2019
For over a year, Palestinians in Gaza have been holding weekly protests along the fence, calling for the right of return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the territory of today’s Israel, as well as for an end to a 12-year blockade imposed by Israel.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, since the launch of the demonstrations, the Israeli army has shot and killed 305 Palestinian demonstrators, including 59 children and 10 women.
It’s 71 years since the Nakba, when at least 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes during the creation of the state of Israel.
This Christian Palestinian takes us through neighborhoods of East Jerusalem that have been destroyed to make way for Israeli settlers. pic.twitter.com/pYi5noJfzf
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 15, 2019
Residents in Gaza City on Wednesday also took part in a general strike to mark the day of mourning. A mass walkout was staged in the city, with shop-owners closing their businesses.
(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)