|English.news.cn 2011-05-14 22:04:00|
by Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA/RAMALLAH, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians continued on Saturday to rally in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to mark al- Nakba Day when thousands of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes during the Arab-Israeli war in 1948.
Dozens of Palestinian artists, members of the Palestinian Union of Artists rallied at the square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza under the title "the artists' unity for return to Palestine." They waved Palestinian flags, carried banners and chanted slogans calling for the unity of the Palestinians and their identity.
During the rally, the artists performed before the crowds that manifested the Palestinian people's suffering at Israeli army roadblocks, in addition to other shows that talk about the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The rally of the artists turned into a mass demonstration.
"We came here to empower the Palestinian national unity and to tell the world that we are sticking to our right of return, which is a holy right and we will never step back," said Sa'eed Kurayem, chairman of the artist union, adding that "the reconciliation deal has to be protected and implemented."
Around 74 Italian activists, who arrived in Gaza on Friday, also joined the rally. They chanted in Italian "Freedom to Palestine." Islam Ayoob, one of the Palestinian artists, told Xinhua that the Palestinians should go on with their reconciliation and their unity "to achieve their goals."
In Gaza City, dozens of Islamic Hamas movement's supporters also rallied in the city to mark al-Nakba Day. They waved Palestinian flags and carried banners with names of the ruined Palestinian towns and villages, from which its inhabitants had escaped in 1948.
Ro'aa Aabed, a six-year-old girl, said that she heard from her grandfather about the city of Jaffa. She said that she dreamed of returning one day to the city where her grandfather grew up. Aabed and dozens of Gaza children wore the traditional Palestinian garments that are symbolic to the Palestinian heritage.
Meanwhile, the deposed premier of Hamas rule in Gaza Ismail Haneya called for a mass dawn prayers all over the Palestinian territories on Sunday to mark al-Nakba Day.
The Palestinians, who fled their homes during the war, lived in refugee camps in the neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan and Lebanon as well as in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Since then, they have been called the Palestinian refugees.
At a roadblock near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem dozens of Palestinians also demonstrated to mark the day. They waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans calling for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees and for the end of the Israeli occupation.
Khaled Mansour, a coordinator for the Popular Activities to Mark al-Nakba Day, told Xinhua that the demonstration "is expressing the Palestinian national unity and also to express the Palestinians commitment to gain their right of return and ending the military occupation of their lands."
However, witnesses said that the Palestinian police dispersed dozens of Palestinian demonstrators who tried to approach an Israeli roadblock in the area of Tulkarem. No violence or injuries were reported. The Palestinian police said they dispersed the protest to avoid possible violence with Israel.
Israel Radio quoted Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Palestinian police, as saying that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is not interested in more violence with Israel and is not ready for confronting a third Intifada or Uprising.
Meanwhile, the foreign affairs department in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said in a press statement sent to reporters that the Palestinians are sticking to the right of return and to the implementation of all the international resolutions related to the Palestinian cause.
The secretariat of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the parliament of the PNA said in a press statement that "the Palestinians are certain that the refugees will be able one day to return to their homes they were forced to leave in 1948 when the state of Israel was established."
"Israel is fully responsible for the Palestinians' Nakba ( catastrophe) and the death of thousands of Palestinians since 1948 until now," said the PLC statement, adding that "Israel should give them their legitimate rights of freedom and independence."