5 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement
Hundreds of Palestinian refugees rallied outside the Erez Crossing in Beit Hanoun today to demand the right to return to the homes from which they and their families were ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias and Israeli military forces beginning in 1947. They were joined by other Palestinians and foreign supporters, including the International Solidarity Movement – Gaza Strip.
The demonstration, organized by the Preparatory Commission for the Right to Return, marked the 44th anniversary of the Naksa, or “setback,” Israel’s 1967 occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and its accompanying expulsion of 300,000 refugees from their homeland. Many of them had already been forced from their original homes during the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” the displacement of 711,000 Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1947-1948.
The rally was addressed by representatives of a broad range of political parties and civil society organizations.
Another nearby gathering, organized by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative, celebrated Palestinian culture with an exhibition of traditional food, clothing, and lifestyles.
Simultaneous demonstrations by Palestinians elsewhere faced violent repression, including lethal force, from the Israeli military. The Syrian Arab News Agency reported that live gunfire by Israeli forces had killed 23 protesters, including a child, a woman, and a journalist, and injured over 350, outside the occupied Golan Heights. At the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, Israeli troops targeted hundreds of demonstrators with tear gas, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated bullets, injuring dozens.
The mobilization drew support from allies of the Palestinian struggle across the world, including Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign organizers.