"The Zionist sun will set as soon as the sun of the Islamist state rises," Sheikh Kamal Hatib, vice-chairman of the Islamic Movement in Israel's northern branch, said Friday during an event marking the 61st anniversary of the Nakba – or the "catastrophe" of Israel's inception and the subsequent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
Thousands of the Islamic Movement's supporters gathered at a soccer stadium in the northern Arab-Israeli village of Kfar Kana to take part in the event, entitled "The right to return and the right to remain".
"Wars and conflicts are not won with F-16 planes and Merkava tanks; they are won with human strength," Hatib told the rally. "If there will be another Nakba in the future, it will not be our (Palestinian) nation that will suffer from it."
Muhammad Zedan, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, said in his speech that "this is our land. We will either live here in bliss or die as shahids (martyrs) on this land. This is what we've learned from the little children in Gaza who died as shahids.
"We will not leave this land, and anyone who thinks he can force us to leave – then he is dreaming," Zedan said.
'We will not accept monetary compensation'
Islamic Movement Chairman Sheikh Raed Salah expressed hope that next year the Palestinians will mark Nakba Day in "the capital of the Palestinian state – Jerusalem."
"This year we celebrated during the 'Jerusalem - capital of Arabic culture for 2009' events, and we hope that next year we will be celebrating in Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state; our capital," Salah said.
"We are the ones who will remain on our land; it is the occupation that will soon disappear."
In his speech, the Islamic Movement head leveled criticism at Pope Benedict XVI, saying that during the pontiff's recent Mideast visit he should have "apologized to the Muslims for past remarks against the prophet Muhammad," adding that the pope also failed to address the "Holocaust that was carried out by the Israeli army in Gaza."
Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, former mufti of Jerusalem, told the rally "we cannot relinquish the right of return (of the Palestinian refuges), and no one can ask this of us. We will not accept monetary compensation. Without the Islamist connection to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem the Palestinian people would have vanished years ago."