Occupied Palestine/Israel: Report of Demonstration on Nakba Day

By Yossi Schwartz (International Socialist League, RCIT-Section in Occupied Palestine/Israel), 18.5.2013


The 15th May marked the 65th anniversary of Nakba. Thousands of Palestinians throughout Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Diaspora, rallied and demonstrated demanding the return of the Palestinian refugees that Israel removed in the ethnic cleansing of 1947-48.

In Jerusalem, where comrades of the International Socialist League participated, hundreds of young Palestinians, many of them women, participated in the march that began in the garden of the Rockefeller Museum and moved toward Damascus gate. The police attacked the march time and again; mounted police unit attacked the people using their horses trying to split the march to small groups. They wanted to scare us but they failed. The demonstrators united time and again chanting: "With our souls and with our blood we will few you Palestine”, ”Palestine from the river to the sea”, ”Return of the refugees” and “We demand a new Intifada”. At the end of the march the brave crowd stood on the large stairs in front of Damascus gate, chanting and raising the flags of Palestine and the flag of the return for more. We stayed there for more than an hour while the Zionist police and army charged time and again in the attempts to disperse the spirited demonstration. Then the Israeli repression forces brought army unit in addition to the police that used brutal force and water trucks spreading the demonstrators with high pressured water. The water tanks sprayed not only the demonstrators but the many small shops including food stalls and shops carrying clothes, vegetables and fruits. I myself was sprayed with water twice. The fact that we were able to keep up the struggle against the brute force for two hours shows the courageous determination of the masses to fight the oppression.

The liberal Zionist paper Haaretz, relying of course on the police as a source of information, reported that two policemen were wounded by Palestinian protesters who threw rocks at Israeli security forces. In reality some young people threw empty boxes and empty cans after they were attacked time and again. According to the same report in the West Bank near Hebron a fire bomb was hurled into an IDF jeep, destroying the vehicle and wounding four IDF soldiers. In the Gaza Strip Palestinian militants fired rockets at southern Israel. The rockets fell in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no damage or injuries.

Other demonstrations took place in the vicinity of Jerusalem. About one hundred Palestinian protesters raised their voice in Bitunia, north of Jerusalem, and similar number of freedom fighters participated in Kalandia, north east of Jerusalem. In both cases the Zionist army fired tear gas and threw stun grenades at protesters. Similar reports came from Kfar Kadum and at in Bethlehem.

Haaertzalso reports that in Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians held a rally at Al-Manara square to mark the day. At noon, a memorial siren was sounded throughout the city. Commemorative events were also held in Hebron and Jenin. In Gaza, a demonstration was attended by both Hamas and Fatah members. In refugee camps throughout Lebanon, Nakba day commemorations were held since the morning hours. The right of return appeared frequently in calls made across stages there, with speakers urging the Palestinian leadership not to give up on the right of the return. This shows once more that the “right of return” is a central element in the Palestinian struggle. They have a very good reason to call on the official leadership not to give up on this demand.

Unlike the past 16 years, the official and unelected leadership of the Palestinians of 1948 – the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel (Arabicجنة المتابعة العليا للجماهير العربية في سرائيل‎) – has not called this year for demonstration and rallies inside Israel. This has weakened the struggle against the oppression of the Palestinian nation which is one nation from the river to the sea.

A speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was broadcast on the Palestinian Authority's TV channel. Abbas stated that Palestinians would not accept any proposal that would conflict with the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and “would not give up on a just and viable solution for Palestinian refugees, based on UN resolution 194”. In spite of those carefully crafted words intended to create the impression that the Palestinian Authority will not give up on the right of the return, the reality is that by accepting the so called “two states solution”, the PA has given up on the right of return. What is the meaning of the phrase “viable solution for Palestinian refugees, based on UN resolution 194?

To begin with, the UN is controlled by the imperialists that supports the existence of Israel and Israel will not allows the return of the refugees. Second of all, resolution 194 is calling for the right of all the refugees who wish so to return to their homeland. Article 11 of the resolution reads:

(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

By saying “viable solution for Palestinian refugees, based on UN resolution 194”, Abbas indicates that he will accept symbolic return of thousands of refugees that Israel will agree to accept. Already in the Lausanne Conference in May and June 1949, the Israeli delegation repeated Israel's standpoint that Arab refugees should be settled in other states and Israel would not allow their return to Israel apart from a limited number. In the Knesset, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharret declared, that Israel considered itself not responsible in any way for the problem of the refugees. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lausanne_Conference_of_1949)

It is clear that growing number of Palestinian especially young Palestinian are ready to risk their lives to liberate Palestine, and that the revolutionary struggle can begin only as the struggle for national liberation under the demand liberated Palestine from the river to the sea. But for the revolution to win it has to be developed to a socialist revolution. However what is missing even now is a revolutionary leadership of the Palestinian working class that will be built in the fire of the struggle itself. WE of the ISL are committed to this task of building a revolutionary working class party that naturally most of the leaders and members will be Palestinians.

For a Free Red Palestine!