Thousands attended a Palestinian rally on Israel's Independence Day in the abandoned village of Kafrin, now a part of the northern town of Ramot Menashe.
The rally was in honor of the Nakba, a holiday marking the expulsion of Palestinian refugees from their land during the War of Independence.
Rally in honor of Palestinian Nakba (Photo: Ido Erez)
Protestors carried Palestinian flags and marched towards the village, where at least 1,000 had lived before the war in 1948. Most of the residents currently reside in Umm al-Fahm and the neighboring Arab towns.
"As the uprooted residents of the State of Israel we have a right to return to our homes and our land," Salman Fahmawi, who chairs a committee for the protection of the uprooted residents' rights, told Ynet.
"It is every man's legitimate right to live in his original home, and this is the message that we will always demand," he added.
"The Nakba did not end in 1948, it continues every day, even today," said Umm al-Fahm Mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan. "We mark the Nakba with pain but also with hope for a better future."
The mayor added, "The message of those who wish to expel us used to belong only to a few, but has recently reached the government even if it is not proclaimed publicly. The destruction of homes, the fact that construction plans are not being approved and funds are not being transferred, passes the same message of 'We don't want you here'."
A few kilometers away, the Zionist youth organization Hashomer Hatzair was holding a mass picnic in honor of Independence Day and against the Nakba march.
Police deployed large forces to patrol the area, fearing an outbreak of violence similar to the one that occurred at the Nakba rally last year. However the events took place peacefully.
"Last year they entered Zippori surreptitiously with Palestinian flags," a picnic organizer recounted. "This year it was important to us to show that we feel safe everywhere."
He added, "This march belongs to a group of radicals that say, 'One day we will take your land', and we say we would be happy if they admitted that life here in a democratic country that gives them all the benefits is a good life. They shouldn't be ungrateful."