Thousands gather to mark ‘Nakba Day’


Mass rallies expected in Ramallah and Gaza City as Palestinians commemorate 63rd anniversary of their “Catastrophe”
A Palestinian teen died during Friday’s clashes in East Jerusalem [REUTERS]

Thousands of Palestinians and activists are gathering to mark “Nakba Day”, or Israel’s 1948 founding, amid tight security following clashes in East Jerusalem.
Small clashes were reported on Sunday in various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces, as access to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City was blocked in anticipation of possible violence erupting. There were no reports of injuries.
Israeli security officials are on high alert in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya where thousands of Palestinians and activists are expected to join the protests
One of the biggest gatherings is being held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel.
Palestinian activists called on people in the West Bank to peacefully march to Qalandiya and to Jewish settlements, Al Jazeera correspondent Nisreen El-Shmayleh tweeted from the scene.
Israeli police said a 20-year-old man from Kfar Qasim, a village in the West Bank, had been arrested after a truck crashed into a bus in southern Tel Aviv on Sunday. One was killed at the scene.
“The investigation is continuing,” a police spokesman told Al Jazeera.
Israeli media reported that at least 10 were injured as two trucks ran over pedestrians and collided with other vehicles and a motorcycle.

On Friday, a Palestinian 17-year-old boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli police. Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating.

Local sources in Silwan told Al Jazeera that only tear gas was used in the clashes that erupted between Palestinian boys and the Israeli police on Friday.

Ayyash was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in Beit Yonatan, they said.

Large numbers of people are also gathering in Lebanon and Jordan, at various Palestinian refugee camps in the countries, and marching toward the borders.

Matthew Cassel, a journalist en route to Lebanon’s southern border, tweeted that dozens of buses were departing Nahr al-Bared and Baddawi refugee camps in northern Lebanon. He said tens of thousands were expected to gather.

Some activists tweeted that the Lebanese and Jordanian authorities were prohibiting protesters from nearing the borders. The information could not be independently verified.

Another tweet said a 63-second-long siren was scheduled to air at noon, local time, in order to commemorate the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.

In the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the ruling Hamas government, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.

Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.

“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh
said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.

Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.

Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live refugee camps.

About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

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