On May 15, the Israeli Armed Forces opened fire on hundreds of protestors who had gathered at a check point on the border of Gaza with Israel, to commemorate Naqba (day of catastrophe), the founding of the Israeli Zionist state in 1948. At least 15 people were killed in the firing while many more were wounded.
The Zionist state of Israel was established 63 years ago, through a violent terror campaign, leading to one of the largest forced migrations in modern history. An estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee their homes, and their property was expropriated. They have been denied the right to return ever since. By recent estimates, there are now about 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendents in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other places. May 15 is marked by Palestinians and their supporters all over the world, as a day of protest against the historic injustice done to them and to reiterate the demand for their homeland.
Within Gaza and the West Bank, tens of thousands came out on to the streets, many holding keys of the family homes they lost in 1948. The Israeli authorities imposed a 24-hour shutdown across the West Bank, closing the various crossings and checkpoints.
Over a thousand people marched from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun toward the Israeli border. In the West Bank, Israeli troops attacked Palestinian protestors at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. At least 55 people are reported to have been injured. Protestors were also attacked in Hebron, Wallajeh and Jerusalem.
In Ramallah's city center, Palestinians demanding the right of return for refugees held banners and waved flags. Protestors were also attacked at the Birzeit University north of Ramallah and in the East Jerusalem district of Issawiya. One of the worst attacks took place outside the southern Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras, where thousands of people had gathered at a border fence to protest the Israeli occupation.
In the West bank village of Al-Walaja, Palestinians and their international supporters joined the residents of the village in a protest for reclamation of the farmlands they have been denied access to, as construction of the separation wall is going on through their lands.
In Israel occupied Golan Heights, protestors demanding reclamation of the village of Majdal Shams on the Syrian border were attacked. At least 100 people were injured. It may be recalled that Israel invaded Syria’s Golan Heights in 1967 and later illegally annexed the territory.
Thousands of Palestinian refugees and their supporters staged protests in various parts of the world on May 15. A ship named The Spirit of Rachel Corrie carrying a humanitarian cargo to Gaza was attacked by an Israeli naval patrol within the so-called Palestinian Security Zone on May 15.
Gaza has been under land, air and sea blockade by Israel and Egypt since 2001, with particularly severe restrictions imposed on it since 2007. An estimated 1.6 million people are forced to live there in overcrowded and inhuman conditions, completely dependent on aid. On May 31, 2010, Israeli forces had attacked the flotilla 'Mavi Marmara' carrying aid to Gaza, killing at least 9 persons. According to news reports, in response to this, over 1,000 activists from around the world, students, nurses, artists, journalists and film-makers, lawyers, academics and others, plan to sail this June on a dozen boats for the Gaza Strip to highlight this human-made tragedy and to protest against the brutality of the Israeli occupation and blockade. The Israeli government has threatened to attack these ships as well.
The Zionist state of Israel, with the full backing of the US and other European imperialist powers, continues its illegal occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories, with brute military force. However, the Palestinian and Arab peoples as well as progressive people around the world have never accepted it and the struggle against it continues to intensify.