Nakba Day, which marks the anniversary of the establishment of modern Israel as a catastrophe, was observed by Palestinians on Sunday amid high tensions in the region following the death of an Al Jazeera reporter and clashes at her funeral.
Although the day is often marked with high tensions, this year passed without any major Nakba-related ceremonies and only a few scattered violent incidents across the country.
In Ramallah, among other West Bank cities, air raid sirens sounded and local residents observed 74 seconds of silence – one for each year since the founding of modern Israel. In addition, a rally took place in the city center with hundreds in attendance.
Young Arab Israelis marked the Nakba in Nazareth by lighting torches and singing, “My homeland, my homeland. The youth will not tire until your liberation,” according to the Times of Israel.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas used the occasion to announce that the PA will continue to pay stipends to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel, a program known as “pay for slay.” Abbas also declared that the PA will not relent on its demand of a “right of return” to Israel for all Arab refugees and their descendants.
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh echoed this.
“Our people are increasingly insisting on their right to return and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Shtayyeh said. “We will remain committed and loyal to our principles. We will continue to fight for them until they are all accomplished…Today, there are 6.4 million refugees waiting for the right of return.”
At Tel Aviv University, a few dozen Arab students protesting the founding of Israel clashed with members of Im Tirtzu, a non-profit organization that represents the Zionist movement on Israeli campuses. Three people were arrested.
In an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Isawiya, a mob attacked an Israeli man who was rescued by Border Police. A paramedic on the scene said that the man “was injured after being attacked when he entered the neighborhood and pepper spray was even sprayed on him.”
He was hospitalized in stable condition.
In a separate incident on Sunday, a large brawl between Jews and Arabs who threw tables and chairs – all reportedly employees at the same workplace – broke out in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehudah market. One person was hospitalized for his injuries.
As part of Israel’s attempt to break the current wave of terrorism which has resulted in the deaths of 19 people over the last two months, the Israel Defense Forces arrested nine suspects in the West Bank on Sunday night.
Israeli police also arrested a Palestinian who was carrying an axe and a note claiming that he was going to carry out a terrorist attack. He was caught near an Orthodox Jewish Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Police said the suspect had been traveling around the area looking for Israelis to attack.
“The vigilance of the police and the pursuit of contact apparently prevented a major attack,” said Police Commander Haim Sargrof. “We will continue with determination and professionalism together with the other security forces to protect the security of Israeli citizens everywhere and at all times.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.