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Nakba Day: Palestinian group attempts to return to 1948 territories, one arrested

By Ling Lewis

19 May 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

 A Palestinian man was arrested at Ni’lin checkpoint on Tuesday, April 15 during a Nakba Day demonstration. The procession successfully crossed the checkpoint which separates the West Bank from Palestinian territories seized in 1948. They were violently forced back by occupation soldiers and police. A Palestinian woman and an international woman were also detained but released that same afternoon.

 During the morning rush hour, several dozen Palestinians and solidarity activists took the Israeli army by surprise and walked through Ni’lin checkpoint. The procession stated their intention to return to their homes in the territories occupied by Israel in 1948 and each presented a placard reading, “permission to enter Palestine: inevitable return,” and bearing the names of Palestinian villages depopulated in 1948.

 Additional Israeli soldiers and police quickly arrived and began attacking the group, shoving and kicking them backwards. Some soldiers used the body of their M16 rifles to hit the procession. During this time soldiers detained three people. Two women were quickly released, but Nabi Saleh resident Naji al Tamimi remains held by Israeli authorities. Israeli soldiers arbitrarily targeted Tamimi, who was peacefully chanting at the time of his arrest. There is a likelihood he was targeted due to his long history of involvement in the peaceful popular struggle against the Israeli occupation.

 The approximately 4 million Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are barred from entering 1948 Palestine, including the holy city of Jerusalem, without rarely-granted permits from Israel. The Ni’lin checkpoint is one of 26 checkpoints which separate the West Bank from the territory which Israel officially considers its own. Of these twenty-six checkpoints, only nine are located on the 1948 “green line”, which is internationally recognized as the basis for the western border of a future Palestinian state. The remaining checkpoints, including the Ni’lin checkpoint, are located at gaps in the Apartheid Wall at places where the wall appropriates Palestinian land. Ni’lin village has achieved international recognition for the tenacity of its nonviolent resistance against the Apartheid Wall in the face of tremendous violence on the part of the Israeli occupation authorities.

 The May 15thdemonstration was called by grassroots organizers to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe. In 1948, over 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and villages following the declaration of the state of Israel. The right of return for the current 4.25 million refugees worldwide is an internationally recognized right and one of the demands of the international Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Ling Lewis is a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).