Kfar Saba of old
Photo: GPO
Palestinians mark ‘catastrophe’
Siren, parades to mark 57 years since Israel's independence and exodus of Palestinian refugees; One refugee says “right of return is sacred, he who forgoes it is a heretic''

TEL AVIV - Palestinians are commemorating Sunday the 57th Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) Day, which marks Israel's independence and the exodus of refugees from Palestine in 1948.


According to Palestinian organizations, Nakba Day activities this year focus on the "rejection of calls to relinquish the right of return."


At 12 p.m. (5 a.m. EDT) a siren will be heard all across the Palestinian Authority, followed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' official speech.


Meanwhile, parades and demonstrations are expected to take place in the territories throughout the day.


According to Palestinian Authority data, the Palestinian population stands at some 10 million people, roughly 40 percent of whom reside
in the territories; at the end of 2004, the number of Palestinian refugees reached some 5 million: 3 million in Jordan, 900,000 in Lebanon and Syria, with the rest dispersed in Arab and other countries around the world.


Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Palestinian Authority's Committee for Refugees, told Ynet the rights of the refuges are sacred, and called on all Palestinians not to vote for any candidate who is not committed to the refugee cause.


Muhammad Hatib, 69, of the Balata refugee camp, said he was 12 when he and his family was forced to leave the Palestinian village of Kfar Saba, which was located near the Israeli town of Kfar Saba.


'We will wait 3,000 years'


"Regardless of how much time has passed, we will not forget our lands and our Palestine," he said. "I will never forget Kfar Saba, and I believe that, even today, the implementation of the right of return is not impossible."


Hatib said the Jews are trying to prevent the Palestinians from realizing their right to return to their homes.


"But just as they said they have waited 2,000 years to return to what they regard as their homeland, even if we would have to wait 3,00 years, we would not give up on one grain of Palestine," he said. "Anyone who gives up the right of return is a heretic."


Hatib said he believes the young Palestinian generation is capable of realizing the dream.


"We did nothing, but (Palestinian) youngsters today blow themselves up at (IDF) roadblocks for the right of return," he said.


Hatib dismissed studies that claim only a minority of refugees aspire to return to Israeli-controlled lands.


"There is no such thing that a refugee would not want to return, it's illogical," he said. "Would any refugee want to live in the density that we live in?"


Recently Abbas said he would bring any agreement reached with Israel on the matter to a referendum, but Hatib said the refugees would not give up regardless of the results.


"There is only one thing that is not under the Palestinian government's authority, and that is the right of return issue," he said. "Who authorized any Palestinian to concede my land, my orchard, my home?"


פרסום ראשון: 05.15.05, 09:46
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