Palestinians mark their 1948 displacement

A Palestinian set fire to a tire during clashes between hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Betunia near the West Bank city of Ramallah.


A Palestinian set fire to a tire during clashes between hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Betunia near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Tens of thousands of Palestinians marked the 65th anniversary of their mass displacement during the war over Israel’s 1948 creation, marching in the streets and in some parts of the West Bank, clashing with Israeli security forces.

Every May 15, Palestinians hold rallies to commemorate the ‘‘nakba,’’ or ‘‘catastrophe,’’ the term they use to describe the displacement, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during the war. The dispute over the fate of those Palestinians and their descendants, now numbering several million, remains at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Israel views the Palestinians’ return as demographic suicide and expects the displaced and their descendants to be taken in by a future Palestinian state. But intermittent Israeli-Palestinian attempts to agree on the terms of such a state have so far failed.

Across the West Bank on Wednesday, sirens wailed at noon for 65 seconds to commemorate the 65 years since the displacement. Thousands marched in Ramallah from the grave of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the city center. Many wore black in a sign of mourning, while holding Palestinian flags and large keys symbolizing the homes they left behind.

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‘‘The right of return will not die,’’ chanted the protesters. Schools closed at midday, and parents brought their children to the demonstration.

In Ramallah, 38-year-old Manwal Awad brought her 11-year-old twins to the protest. ‘‘Every year I bring them with me to inherit the story of our nakba, and to keep the dream of return,’’ she said.

Rallies were elsewhere in the West Bank as well, and in several places demonstrators throwing rocks clashed with Israeli security forces, who responded with tear gas, Israel’s military said. Near the volatile city of Hebron, a fire bomb hit at an Israeli military vehicle, causing it to overturn and injuring four soldiers, the military said.

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