May 15 - Palestinians observe Nakba Day, recalling the displacement of the Palestinian people in 1948. Sarah Sheffer reports.
Palestinians are marking Nakba Day, commemorating 64 years since their loss of land and displacement after the creation of Israel in 1948. Black flags hang through the streets of Ramallah and shops have closed in observance of the day. Nakba Day, or "The Day of Catastrophe", is traditionally marked by protests across the Palestinian Territories. In a national address on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called upon Palestinians to unite. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS SAYING: "Today, all of our people unite to commemorate the Nakba, which displaced our people and they continue to suffer as a result. Every Palestinian, men and women, (suffer) whether living under occupation or in the refugee camps." Some 700,000 people fled or were driven from their homes when Israel was created in 1948. Now as many as five million refugees and their descendants live in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, many of them in squalid camps. Abu Rizik, a 75-year-old resident of Ramallah, recalled being forced to flee from his home in Jaffa. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ABU RIZIK, PALESTINIAN REFUGEE, SAYING: "I remember the suffering that we had gone through as they (Jewish militias) were throwing bombs and firing shells at us. We used to have a huge home and my father brought in goods while there was a war. He took a tank from the fighters and he placed the goods in it and hid the goods at home, I was young then. We put sand bags all the way up to the roof so that the Jews would have trouble entering (our house)." In East Jerusalem, Israeli border police clashed with stone-throwing youth. Sarah Sheffer, Reuters