Palestinians Mark the ‘Nakba’

Thousands of Palestinians have marked the 61st anniversary of the "Nakba" or "catastrophe," in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced following the creation of Israel.

Demonstrators marched through cities across the West Bank on Thursday, holding Palestinian flags and images of Arab villages razed by Israeli forces in 1948.

The ceremonies took place a day early because the May 15 anniversary of the Nakba falls this year on a Friday, a day off in the mostly Muslim Palestinian territories.

In Ramallah, demonstrators waved banners reading, "The right of return is sacred," and "Return, Jerusalem And Self-Determination: Our Struggle Will Continue" as they gathered at the tomb of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader.

Meanwhile in the northern West Bank town of Ramallah, about 2,000 Palestinians held a separate rally, marching through the streets with black ribbons to signify mourning.

But in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) accused Hamas authorities of preventing them from holding any ceremonies to mark the Nakba.

Witnesses said police were deployed in the centre of Gaza City to disperse any demonstrators who tried to gather, AFP news agency reported.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes during the creation of the Israeli state six decades ago.

Palestinians demand the right for the 4.6 million descendants of those who fled in 1948 to return to their lands that are now inside Israel.
 
(Agencies)

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