On Thursday 15th May, thousands of people gathered in Ramallah to mark the 60th anniversary of al-Nakba (the catastrophe) to remember the forcible expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian people from their homes in 1948. Crowds marched from refugee camps around Ramallah, converging in the centre of the city where the crowds gathered for speeches and traditional dancing.
From Kalandia camp thousands of black balloons were released, along with balloons in Bethlehem and Jerusalem – one for every day of the Palestinian dispossession. While the black balloons signified the mourning of lost land and rights, attached were notes from children around Palestine stating their hopes for the future. One note simply read, ” I hope to someday be able to swim in the sea.”
Down the road at the Kalandia checkpoint that prevents so many Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas and sound bombs as young Palestinian protesters managed to climb the apartheid wall, placing a Palestinian flag at the top.
The commemoration of the Nakba, across Palestine and around the world, comes a day after the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, thus signifying the ethnic cleansing that occurred in order for the establishment of a Jewish state. Emphasis was put on the fact that the Nakba is ongoing, with the illegal Israeli occupation, expanding Israeli settlements ad system of apartheid within the West Bank and the brutal siege on Gaza.