Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the movement's Islamic branch, delivered a harsh speech in which he praised Omar Said and Ameer Makhoul who were arrested earlier this week on suspicion of espionage.
Salah turned to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and warned him, "Mr. Aharonovitch and all those hiding behind you, don't put us in a corner because the radical one among us will be crazy."
Ahead of the annual event, the Islamic Movement feared it would not be able to hold the rally due to an impending law prohibiting any events related to the Nakba, but the rally was eventually held as planned.
The movement's leader did not spare his criticism of the Israeli establishment and its leaders. He promised the event's participants that the Palestinian refugees would soon return to their homes in the Galilee and Negev and in the cities of Haifa, Lod and Akko.
"There is no escape but to return to our land, our country, our villages and our towns. The right of return has no alternative. We shall not repeat the mistake made in 1948 and shall not agree to take money in return or become citizens of other countries."
Rally's participants (Photo: Muhammad Shinawi)
Salah went on to slam Israel over the arrests of Omar Said, a Kafr Kanna resident, and Ameer Makhoul.
"The Israeli establishment, know that you will not break our will, you will not buy our freedom. You have arrested Dr. Omar Said and Amir Makhoul, whose job was to reveal the crimes of the Israeli establishment," he said.
"If you think that with this arrest you will take revenge against political groups in our society like Balad, you are wrong. Balad, the Islamic Movement, Hadash and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee – all share one hope, one pain, one future, and one present. Those who go against one of us, go against everyone. We are all Omar Said, we are all Ameer Makhoul."
'Settlements are cancer'
At this stage Salah turned to the internal security minister. "To Aharonovitch we say, don't rejoice in your incitement against the Arab parties and leaders and the Islamic Movement. Those who incite against us, their natural place is under our shoes. Mr. Aharonovitch, if you call for our transfer, you are the first who should leave. We will continue to stay here as long as the za'atar (Middle Eatsern herb) and olives are here."
He warned, "Mr. Aharonovitch and all those hiding behind you, don't put us in a corner because the more radical one among us will go mad. We will all rise and defend our present and our future and our children's. We must not despair; we won't despair."
He referred to the settlements as "a spreading cancer" and said: "There is a cancer called communities inside the West Bank. This disease is spreading in occupied Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights. We know this cancer has managed to establish 1,000 factories and has managed to produce 3,000 products. We call on you to avoid buying from this cancer. Put all these products in the dustbin, choke the economy of these communities. This cancer should be choked until the occupation ends and is lifted from all of Jerusalem."
Before concluding his speech, Salah turned to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and called on them to unite. "From here, from the Galilee, we call on you to unite against the occupation until the state of Palestine is established with Jerusalem as its capital."
Salah's deputy, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, spoke before him and vowed that "the Nakba will not be repeated. It will not happen again. We are staying here and won't go anywhere."
Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, referred to this week's arrests were as a persecution of the political leadership in the Arab sector.