- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinians mark "Nakba" with events across occupied West Bank
- Date: 8th May 2008
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED PALESTINIAN REFUGEE SAYING: "This is my house's key in Palestine in Beit Jibrin. My house's key in Beit Jibrin. This is the key of the house which is still there, I have the papers of the house, I can show them to you."
- Embargoed: 23rd May 2008 13:00
- Topics: History
- Reuters ID: LVACI2EN8YEEBEDZTVMFQZG7IB47
- Story Text: Palestinians living in refugee camps and towns in the occupied West Bank march with a 10-meter long key symbolising the dispossession of homes they were expelled or fled from, when Israel established its independence in 1948.
Sixty years after they were expelled or fled their homes in fighting that erupted after Israel declared its independence, Palestinian refugees claimed their right of return to their homes and presented a 10-meter long key to symbolise their dispossession.
Hundreds of people marched from the Dahaisha camp in the occupied West Bank to the city of Bethlehem, to mark the "Nakba", meaning catastrophe in Arabic, when the Jewish state was established on lands Palestinians demand to go back to.
The key, which organisers of the event said will be presented to Guinness World Record in a bid to set a world record, was carried on a truck driving through the camp and town's streets. "We will not give up the right of return", read a big banner decorating the truck.
An elderly Palestinian refugee presented his own key at the rally.
"This is my house's key in Palestine in Beit Jibrin. My house's key in Beit Jibrin. This is the key of the house which is still there, I have the papers of the house, I can show them to you," the man said.
In Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad opened the start of Nakba events in the Palestinian territories.
He attended an event, where tents were setup to symbolise a refugee camps.
"We are taking part in inaugurating the activities connecting with commemorating the 60th anniversary of Nakba, the day when we Palestinian people, were dispossessed and displaced," Fayyad said.
The Arab states surrounding British Mandate Palestine went to war in 1947 over a U.N. resolution dividing Mandate Palestine into two states, one Jewish, the other Arab. They said it was unfair to lose what they deemed ancestral lands to accommodate Jewish immigrants seeking a state after the Nazi Holocaust, in what the Jews saw as a return to their ancient Biblical Jewish homeland.
But the Zionist forces took a larger chunk of Palestine than the one allotted to them under the UN partition plan, and some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled during the 1947/48 hostilities. The Palestinians refer to that entire experience, which also saw the destruction of some 400 Palestinian villages, as the "Nakba" or "catastrophe".
Today, those who became refugees in 1947/48, and their descendants, make up a Palestinian refugee community of some 4.5 million in Arab east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and abroad. Many hope to return to homes in what is now Israel under any future peace accord.
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