BEIRUT

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Palestinians peacefully mark Nakba Day across Lebanon

Palestinian children remember the Nakba. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Palestinians and their supporters peacefully commemorated the 64th anniversary of Nakba, or the catastrophe, Tuesday with a series of protests across the country, in stark contrast to the deadly events of last year.

In Ain al-Hilweh, a series of activities re-enacted stages of Palestinian displacement from 1948 to 1967, as well as various massacres. A sit-in at the camp’s entrance included tents symbolizing the first stage of exile, and was followed by a march of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The protesters also paid tribute those who died last year at Maroun al-Ras, when a march to the border on Nakba Day left 10 dead and many wounded after people rushed to the border with Israel and were shot at by Israeli troops.

In Bourj al-Barajneh, a march entitled “Loyalty to Palestine and liberation” ended at the home of an elderly man who still has the key to his house in his homeland.

Sheikh Hasan Masri, deputy chief of the Amal Movement’s political office, took part in the march and said that “any movement whose compass is not Palestine is a distorted one.”

Two sit-ins took place at the Gibran Khalil Gibran garden facing the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for West Asia in Downtown Beirut. The first was organized by the Palestinian Organization for Human Rights, also known as Shahed.

During the Shahed event, children from refugee camps waved Palestinian flags and wore keffiyehs. Signs raised included one that read “On May 15, prisoners, refugees, Gaza Strip, West Bank and Occupied Palestine are one, and one dream.”

In the same garden, the Palestinian Democratic Youth Union held a sit-in during which its head, Youssef Ahmad, said “there will be no victory without ... rebuilding national unity using democratic means to rebuild the Palestinian political system and all of its institutions.” He stressed the lack of opportunities and rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

The Future Movement’s youth wing also held a sit-in at Riad al-Solh Square, calling it “shameful that our Palestinian brothers have been calling on the consciousness of the entire world with no answer.”

Several political and religious figures made statements in honor of Nakba Day. The Progressive Socialist Party emphasized its “total support of the Palestinian’s people’s struggle to get their legitimate national and political rights, the first of which is establishing an independent Palestinian state and the return of refugees to their homes and land.”

The statement added that “the Israeli occupation will reach a dead end because of the system of racial discrimination it applies, its rejection of the two-state solution, complete shutting down of all opportunities for political settlement ... expanding settlement policy and destruction of homes.”

Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani said that “the Zionist Jewish foreign entity in Palestine is a foreign occupation and colonialism of Palestinian land ... this occupying entity ... will not be able to oppress the Palestinian people and take away their will.”

Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, the vice president of the Higher Shiite Council, said in a statement: “This entity [Israel] is a pit of corruption which has spread its strife to our area and brought destruction and ruin to our Arab and Islamic world.” He called on Arabs and Muslims to “bear their moral and national responsibilities in rejecting disputes with each other and re-embracing the Palestinian cause.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 16, 2012, on page 4.

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