10,000 Palestinians Participate in Violent “Nakba Day” Riot at Gaza Border


Palestinians on Wednesday marked the 71st anniversary of the 1948 war around Israel’s creation with protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of people streamed to the Gaza-Israel frontier as the terror group Hamas, which controls Gaza, announced a general strike, closing schools and public institutions to allow for a large turnout.

More than 60 Palestinians were killed at last year’s demonstration, which coincided with the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

This year’s demonstration, however, comes two weeks after a cease-fire was reached to end a fierce two-day round of fighting. A Qatari envoy, who has been helping mediate the cease-fire, has urged Hamas to keep Wednesday’s demonstration restrained.

The IDF said protesters hurled stones and explosives toward troops and approached the fence. “These are terrorist-backed violent riots and they endanger the lives of innocent civilians,” the Israeli military said.

In east Gaza City, huge plumes of smoke billowed behind the fence as Israeli farmland caught fire by incendiary balloons sent over the border fence launched by terrorist. At least one large Israeli wheat field was destroyed.

Gaza’s health authorities said 60 protesters were wounded, 16 by Israeli live fire and 14 with rubber-coated steel pellets as the demonstrations ended.

The demonstrations were marking what the Palestinians call the “nakba,” or “catastrophe,” in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment.

For a year, Hamas has staged protests every Friday along the perimeter fence dividing Israel and Gaza, demanding an end to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

Israeli farmer battles fire started by an incendiary device launched from Gaza Strip, near the Israel and Gaza border fence, Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

The fate of the refugees is one of the core issues of dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel rejects demands for a mass return of refugees to long-lost homes, saying it would threaten the country’s Jewish character.

Hamas said that easing Gaza’s economic hardship was not a substitute for the Palestinian demand for a right of return. “No one will make us forget our cause and we don’t accept that our cause is turned into food and drink,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official.

[Pro-Israel Activists Hold “Nakba Day Party” To Counter Annual Nakba Ceremony At Tel-Aviv University]

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of people marched from the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to a rally downtown, demanding the right to return to lost properties in what is now Israel.

“We will return, no matter how long it takes” read one of the signs.

Sirens also wailed across the West Bank at noon, and smaller demonstrations took place, in expressions of sadness.

The IDF had hoped that the unseasonably hot weather, as well as the Ramadan fast, would make it difficult for the demonstrators to riot. In recent days, the Iron Dome system was deployed in the south and center of the country in order to provide a response to rocket fire, should it occur during the day.

(AP / YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)