"The Jews' independence day is our day of mourning," thousands of Arab Israelis chanted Thursday during a march commemorating the "Nakba," or the "catastrophe" of the establishment of the State of Israel.
The protesters, who marched from Kafr Yasif towards Amqa and Kuwaykat - two Arab villages that were depopulated in 1948, waved Palestinian flags.
A number of Arab Knesset members, as well as Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel's northern branch, were among the thousands who took part in the rally.
"Independence Day is a day of mourning for the Palestinian people, and on this day we remember the victims of the expulsion and expropriation," said MK Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly).
'We won't forgive or forget.' (Photo: Al-Arab website)
"We will never forgive or forget as long as this historic injustice done to the Palestinian people is not rectified," the lawmaker said. "On this day we are full of hope, because we see other nations liberating themselves from brutal regimes – and it can happen to us as well."
According to Zahalka, both the Palestinian and Jewish people "deserve to live a life of freedom, peace and equality – without Zionist hegemony. There is no true peace when one side controls the other."
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) said, "On this day one side celebrates while the other remembers the destruction of a community and expulsion. The acknowledgement of the other's suffering - particularly (the suffering) of the Palestinian people – would mean we are halfway towards a compromise."
Talab El-Sana, also from the United Arab List-Ta'al party, said, "I will never forget my historic right, nor will I forgive (Israel) for the crimes committed during the Palestinian Nakba.
"These marches to the uprooted villages are meant to preserve the collective memory. As long as long as Israel does not acknowledge its responsibility for the Palestinian Nakba and the Palestinian refugees' right of return, the Palestinian Nakba marches will continue to intensify."