Ramallah, West Bank — Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday during demonstrations to mark 65 years since what they call the Nakba (Catastrophe) when Israel’s creation caused many to lose their homes and become refugees.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to return to the region on Tuesday in another bid to revive peace talks frozen since 2010.
But a resolution remains elusive and many Palestinians cling to a desire for refugees and descendants to return to ancestral lands now in Israel - an idea Israel rejects, saying it would spell the end of the Jewish state.
Protesters skirmished with Israeli forces outside a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron and at a prison near Ramallah, leaving several Palestinians injured.
Thousands also rallied in the main square of Ramallah, the Palestinians’ de facto capital while Jerusalem remains under Israeli control, holding up placards with the names of villages depopulated in 1948 and old keys, symbols of lost homes.
“For the sake of my future and to return to my family’s land, I don’t want any more useless negotiations but the path of resistance and the rifle,” said Ahmed al-Bedu, a gangly 15-year-old Palestinian who holds Jordanian citizenship.
Local Arabs and the armies of neighbouring Arab states failed in a 1948 war to stop the Jews settling in Palestine, who cited biblical ties to the land and a need for a Jewish state, which up to that time was under British colonial control.
5.3 MILLION REGISTERED REFUGEES
Many Arab residents fled or were expelled by force from their homes and prevented from returning. Only Jordan, which now has a peace treaty with Israel, gave the refugees citizenship.