For Palestinians worldwide and millions supporting them, Nakba Day commemorates loss of their homeland, initially 78% in 1948, then the rest 19 years later in 1967.
Speaking for many, Audeh Rantisi recounted the horror, saying:
"I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July 1948," weeks after Israel's May 14 Yom Ha'atzmaut, its Declaration of Independence at the expense of displaced and slaughtered Palestinians.
"The pain sears my memory," he said, "and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try."
Many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians endured brutality, harassment, humiliation, and loss of their entire world, what Edward Said called "a slow death," shattered lives, and the incalculable horror of it all.
Explaining the horrific toll, Rantisi added:
"First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean coast, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries."
"Then without (food or) water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days. The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving. Terror-filled my 11-year old mind as I wondered what would happen. I remember overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about the recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too?"
Soldiers shot resisters, including women and children. For others "I saw many stagger and fall. Others lay dead or dying in the scorching midsummer heat. Scores of pregnant women miscarried, and their babies died along the wayside. The wife of my father's cousin became very thirsty." She couldn't continue.
"Soon she slumped down and was dead....Those wretched days and nights in mid-July of 1948 continue as a lifelong nightmare because Zionists took away our home of many centuries. For me and a million other Palestinian Arabs, tragedy marred our lives forever."
Nakba Day Confrontations
Israeli viciousness marked Nakba day commemorations, assaulting peaceful demonstrators in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and along the Lebanese/Syrian borders. Mounting deaths, injuries and arrests were reported.
Headlining "Heavy clashes in Qalandiya on Nakba Day," AFP said:
"Heavy clashes broke out near Ramallah in the West Bank on Sunday when youths clashed with Israeli troops as Palestinians mourned the (63rd Nakba Day) anniversary...."
Soldiers used tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire "near the Qalandiya crossing between Ramallah and annexed East Jerusalem....Clashes were also reported in the East Jerusalem district of Issawiya....And in al-Walaja, a village (straddling) the Bethlehem-Jerusalem border," demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, shouting, "Go away, go away! We don't want to see the Zionists."
Haaretz writers Nir Hasson, Anshel Pfeffer and Jack Khoury headlined, "Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces on Nakba Day," saying:
Throughout Occupied Palestine, annual "protests mark(ed) the creation of the State of Israel. A witness at (Gaza's) Erez crossing said that Israeli troops fired two tank shells and (other live fire) at the approaching protesters."
Other Haaretz accounts said clashes swept the Territories. Eight or more deaths were reported. Dozens were hurt, and many arrests made during violent Nakba Day commemorations. Death and injury tolls rose during the day.
Ma'an News reported fierce clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. "Medics told Ma'an that at least 15 demonstrators were injured by artillery shells and gunfire as they approached the Erez crossing with Israel."
Later reports added dozens to the count, including deaths after Israeli tanks opened fire in northern Gaza and conducted other attacks throughout the Territories.
Israelis always confront peaceful Palestinian protesters violently, suggesting mounting deaths and injuries may continue into next week, including children, some critically hurt according to medical reports.
Earlier Sunday, Press TV reported at least several Gazan deaths, four or more in the West Bank, 12 in Golan (now 14 or more), and dozens injured throughout the Territories, many of them children. Soldiers fired tank shells, high-velocity tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, enforcing a 24-hour lockdown Palestinians didn't obey and shouldn't on their most important commemoration day.
A later in the day Press TV report said two dozen were killed and scores injured from clashes throughout the Territories and in Lebanese/Syrian border areas. Israeli attacks, in fact, may continue all night into Monday, mindless that the whole world is watching.
As a result, on Nakba Day 2011, global millions see Israel's real face - lawlessly assaulting peaceful protesters violently, leaving dozens killed or injured, including children.
The Palestine News Network (PNN) reported the following:
-- at least 30 injured in Golan's Majdal Shams village;
-- 30 or more injured in Ramallah, two critically from live fire and high-velocity tear gas canisters fired at point blank range at peaceful protesters; "(w)itnesses told PNN that soldiers were targeting peaceful protesters by shooting directly at them;"
-- in Gaza, 27 or more Palestinians were hurt, including children, from Israeli tanks and troops shelling protesters;
-- Israeli forces attacked Palestinians in al-Walajeh village between Jerusalem and Bethlehem; several were injured, four or more arrested; and
-- other clashes in Hebron, Jerusalem's Old City, the Sho'fat refugee camp, Silwan village, and other West Bank locations, Israelis assaulting peaceful protesters violently.
With events still unfolding, PNN reported ten killed and at least 300 injured throughout Occupied Palestine, as well as along the Lebanese/Syrian borders. Other accounts confirm higher numbers as death and injury counts rise.
The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) headlined, "Defying Israeli Restrictions; Thousands Mark The Nakba Day in Jaffa," saying:
"Despite Israeli 'laws' criminalizing the commemoration of the Nakba Day....thousands of residents, including Jewish peace activists, marched on Saturday evening in Jaffa....affirming Palestinian historic rights and their legitimate struggle against oppression and occupation."
Ahead of Sunday commemorations, they defied Israel's "Nakba Law," prohibiting expressions and commemorations of Palestinian history, culture, and legal right to express, teach, and disseminate it freely. For Israelis, it's to erase this seminal event from their consciousness.
IMEMC also headlined, Israeli "Army Places West Bank Under Siege," saying:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered a "24-hour siege," deploying 10,000 soldiers and police throughout the Territories. Government officials said anyone observing the day in "Israel" will be arrested, including Jews.
Another IMEMC report highlighted Jerusalem clashes, causing injuries and at least 20 arrests for "disturbing the peace." Besides assaults by Israeli soldiers and police, an eyewitness said a settler "fired illegal Dumdum rounds at local Palestinian youths protesting in the area."
Ma'an News said Israel deployed seven extra battalions in the West Bank besides large contingents of police. Nonetheless, mass rallies were held throughout the Territories and on border areas.
Press TV said Israel deployed tanks to Lebanon's border, increasing chances for greater violence.
Israel National News headlined, "IDF Stops Nakba Invasions from Lebanon and Gaza; 4 Lebanese Dead," accusing Palestinians of being "Nakba Day rioters," saying:
Artillery fire wounded "at least 40 Arabs. IDF spokespersons have not confirmed or denied the reports."
On Press TV, Beirut-based Franklin Lamb described an unprecedented historic turnout in support of Palestine. Hundreds of buses brought supporters to Lebanon's boarder, including Palestinian refugees. More than 50,000 participated, perhaps double that number, supporting a long overdue liberating third Intifada.
Reuters writer Oren Kessler headlined, "Thousands rally in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon for 'Nakba Day,' " saying:
Marchers commemorated Nakba Day, demanding the right of return.
Writer Haim Shafir headlined, "Israel-Palestinian violence erupts on three borders," saying:
At least eight dead and dozens wounded were reported. "Israeli troops shot at protesters in three separation locations to prevent crowds from crossing Israeli frontier lines in the deadliest such confrontation in years."
Addressing thousands at Gaza City's al-Omari Mosque, AP quoted Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh saying:
"Palestinians mark the occasion this year with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Israel. Palestinians have the right to resist Israeli occupation and will one day return to property they lost in 1948. To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership."
Whether this translation accurately conveyed his sentiment isn't clear. Earlier, he and other Hamas officials expressed willingness to recognize Israel in return for a viable Palestine state within 1967 borders, just 22% of their original homeland, a deal Israel rejects.
In fact, in Cairo on May 3, agreeing to unity with Fatah, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said:
"Hamas was ready to pay any price for internal Palestinian reconciliation. The only battle of the Palestinians is against Israel. Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return."
Supportive Global Events
Notably, supportive rallies were held worldwide, including in:
-- Washington, DC
-- Olympia, Washington
-- New York
-- Los Angeles
-- San Francisco
-- Dearborn, Michigan, and
-- perhaps many other cities as well.
America's media reported little or nothing, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Wall Street Journal writers Charles Levinson and Joshua Mitnick headlined, "Israeli Military Opens Fire Along Syrian, Lebanese Borders," saying:
"Israeli soldiers opened fire on hundreds of protesters attempting to cross the border into Israel from Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as protests erupted across the region to mark the creation of the state of Israel, which Palestinians call the Nakba or catastrophe."
No explanation of the day's significance was given nor in most other Western media accounts, including BBC quoting Israeli General Yoav Mordechai saying IDF troops opened fire on Golan protesters trying to breach a border fence, calling it:
"a serious incursion....We are seeing here an Iranian provocation, on both the Syrian and Lebanese frontiers, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations."
Correspondent Jon Donnison in Ramallah said, "Palestinians are feeling emboldened and inspired by the uprisings elsewhere" in the region, providing no explanation of the day's significance except for one throwaway line, saying:
"Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes in fighting after (Israel's) creation."
Omitted from its early edition, The New York Times added an Ethan Bronner article headlined, "9 Killed as Israel Clashes With Palestinians on Four Borders," saying:
"As many as nine Palestinians were reported killed and scores injured in the unprecedented wave of coordinated protests."
"The biggest confrontation took place" in Golan, killing four, said Bronner. In fact, 14 is the 9PM Golan time count, a number perhaps rising during the night into Monday.
Bronner said four Lebanese protesters were killed, also way understated given the passion and commitment of massed tens of thousands expressing Palestinian solidarity, nine or more paying with their lives. He also cited Israel's military attributing one Gazan death to a youth planting explosives, hardly likely in full view of IDF forces.
Moreover, he quoted General Yoav Mordechai claiming Iran coordinated confrontations, then admitted he offered no evidence. According to Israel Radio's chief Arab affairs analyst, Yoni Ben-Menachem, Syria's Assad was involved, trying to divert attention from his own troubles, another claim with no corroboration.
Like other Western accounts, Bronner explained nothing about Nakba Day's significance, a history long erased in New York Times reports, editorials and op-eds, nearly entirely pro-Israeli.
At a Sunday cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced Nakba Day protests, contemptuously saying:
"I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighboring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage. There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true."
Besides America, no state anywhere is more violent and lawless than Israel, notably during its own "creation" when it displaced 800,000 Palestinians, massacring many others, as well as destroying hundreds of villages and urban communities, besides committing mass atrocities.
Israel notably erased this history, substituting its own sanitized version, regurgitated in frequent Netanyahu comments. Like Obama, he's an unindicted war criminal and inveterate liar, today mocking the horrendous human toll and occupation, preventing Palestinians from living free on their own land in their own country, a status they're determined to change.
Perhaps May 15 began it, inspiring a global groundswell too powerful to contain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.