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Thousands return to destroyed Palestinian villages in Israel

The March of Return, which coincides with Israeli Independence Day, calls for the right of return for Palestinians who were expelled from or fled the land in 1948. 

Thousands of people take part in the March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Akron Drawshi/Activestills.org)

Thousands of people take part in the March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Akram Drawshi/Activestills.org)

Approximately 10,000 people of all ages — mostly Palestinian citizens of Israel — took part in the 18th annual March of Return Thursday, on the land where the destroyed Palestinian village of Hadatha once stood. Setting out under an ominous sky, the demonstrators walked across the lands of the former village, wearing keffiyehs, waving flags and singing. The looming tempest eventually broke, but the march continued unabated.

The March of Return, which always coincides with Israeli Independence Day, commemorates the Nakba and calls for the right of return for Palestinians who were expelled from or fled the land in 1948. The destination changes each year, to one of the more than 400 villages that were destroyed during or following the war. Hadatha, which is located southwest of Tiberias in the Lower Galilee, had around 600 inhabitants before being depopulated across May and June of 1948; now, the area consists of wild fields and scattered groves of trees.

A Palestinian man takes part in the March of Return, Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Akron Drawshi/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian man takes part in the March of Return, Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Akram Drawshi/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian woman takes part in the March of Return, Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Akron Drawshi/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian woman takes part in the March of Return, Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Akram Drawshi/Activestills.org)

As the rain subsided, the march — organized by the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Displaced People (ADRID) — congregated in a field where a stage and sound system had been set up along with photo and art exhibitions, gift stalls, and tables laid out with booklets and posters. Amid music, chanting, dancing and speeches, a one-minute moment of silence was held in memory of Palestinians who have been killed during the struggle for national recognition and rights. A number of Knesset members from the Joint List were present, including MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi.

“These are Israeli citizens. They have Israeli identity cards. And they remain in this country,” explained Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh. “They fled during the war from one village to the next one. And they were not allowed to return.”

Hades MK Ayman Odeh takes part in the 18th annual March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hadash MK Ayman Odeh takes part in the 18th annual March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“So tell me, what is the problem with them returning?” Odeh continued. “What is the problem with residents of Hadatha returning here? What is the problem with residents of Tzipori [Sepphoris] who fled from Tzipori to Nazareth during wartime returning? It is a good thing for all of us, that the Nakba and Israeli injustice be recognized.”

Next to him, poet and resident of the Upper Galilee Atif Khaldi added: “In 1948, they came with bulldozers and destroyed our villages. It was a plan to transfer Palestinians out of the country. Now, we refugees remain inside the country and they are ignoring our rights. This demonstration is to demand those rights.”

A young Palestinian girl takes part in the March of Return, Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)

A young Palestinian girl takes part in the March of Return, Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Omar Sameer/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth shout slogans during the March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth shout slogans during the March of Return, Hadatha, Lower Galilee, April 23, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Throughout the crowd, symbols of the Palestinian struggle abounded: keys, the outline of historic Palestine and Handala — a cartoon child that represents Palestinian refugees — appeared on t-shirts and necklaces throughout. Hundreds of people carried yellow signs bearing the names of destroyed villages.

These are motifs that are rarely seen and barely understood in Israeli society, and their meaning forms part of a discussion which urgently needs to take place. The importance of recognizing the Nakba was the overarching message of the day, and even as Israelis around the country celebrated Independence Day, a message for them was making its way around Hadatha in the form of a Hebrew sticker. It said, simply: “Nakba. Let’s talk about it.”

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    COMMENTS

    1. Poopsy

      Nakba is the term for the failed attempt by the Arabs to destroy Israel. Happy Nakba to everyone!

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        Of course there was no Israel to destroy in 1948 – there was an arc of Zionist settlements and a few cities, usually referred to as the Yishuv, which was really a state within a state. This armed settlement invaded the rest of Palestine and destroyed most of the country through a campaign of terror shelling against the major cities and countryside. The WZO political group behind this invasion recruited its army from within the country to be invaded after formulating its military objective in a series of so-called Zionist congresses held in Europe (and later the US).

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      Zochrot is launching an iNakba app for your smartphone –

      http://inakba.org/

      iNakba is a trilingual mobile app (Arabic, Hebrew and English) based on GPS Navigation technology. This app allows users to locate and learn about Palestinian localities destroyed during, and as a result of, the Nakba since 1948…The application provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely ruined, destroyed, obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing but were depopulated and their residents expelled. The app also provides historical information and includes video clips and photographs of these localities. The app is interactive; it allows users to add pictures of the destroyed localities, as well as share their comments and follow updates about selected localities.

      Reply to Comment
    3. New Relic

      Sure they can do this
      But the date they choose is telling
      It is more of an anti-Israel message than one in supoort of Palestine

      So transparent.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Joel Cantor

      Gee, when do Mizrachi Jews get a chance to do their march of return in Cairo, Tunis, Damascus, Bagdad, Rabat etc.

      Or is harping on about the past just an Arab thing only?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        Maybe they should just move to Israel and have done with it, just like Bibi would tell them.

        Reply to Comment
        • ProudPharisee

          Jewish Arab refugees of ethnic cleansing were taken in by the Ashkenazi settler population, however imperfectly, and made citizens.

          Meanwhile, Palestinians live in apartheid conditions in Arab countries to this day.

          Reply to Comment
    5. Ken Kelso

      The 48 war was the was the result of the Palestinians together with their Arab allies to perform ethnic cleansing on the Jews and their failure to complete it.

      Every single Jew in the parts of the Mandate seized by the Arabs was expelled from their homes. No exceptions. They even dynamited the entire ancient Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem in an attempt to wipe out the history of Jewish residence there. They also made it illegal for a Jew to live in the areas of the former Mandate that they controlled, including East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

      850,000 Jews were also forced from the Arab countries.

      After the 5 Arab armies attacked Israel in 48,
      Haj Amin Al Husseini stated:
      I declare a holy war, my muslim brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!
      The Arab League Secretary, General Azzam Pasha declared “a holy war. He said, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ken Kelso

      Andrew R, There has never been, I repeat NEVER been, a civilization, Entity, or a nation referred to as “Palestine” There was never a Palestinian tribe, and there was never a Palestinian country in the Land of Israel to begin with! Israel is not for sale. It is not a pie to be sliced up and served to a clan of killers and their supporters.

      Israel existed 1500 years before Mohammad was born

      Tell us Andrew when did it ever belong to Palestinians Andrew? Answer Never. It was never a Pal land to begin with, so your question is invalid.
      The Palestinians never governed or controlled any land before 1993.
      To make it simple, please tell me one Palestinian President before 1993?
      Keep thinking Andrew.
      The Palestinians want a capitol which they never had, in a country that never existed.

      The Palestinians have nothing to do with the name Palestine.
      The name Palestine is named after the Philistines, not the Palestinians or any Arab group.
      It was certainly not directed or bestowed to the Arabs in this area.

      The Philistines were from Crete in Europe and came to Israel 3000 years ago and were not Arabs or Muslims. Delilah and Goliath were Philistines. (Philistines died out.)
      Philistine is the name the Romans renamed Israel as a chagrin against the Jews.

      Yassir Arafat was not a Philistine, but an ARAB born in Egypt. Philistine originates from the Hebrew verb Palash, which means to invade. So the Arabs who started to call themselves Palestinians in the late 60′s are invaders and they want to create an Invadia state.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Jews who currently occupy Palestine have only one characteristic that connect them to the ancient Hebrews and its not an actual physical connection, it is only their horrible behavior. The ancient Hebrews, a semitic people, who entered Palestine from the continent of AFRICA, not Poland, Moldova, Russia, England or the Americas, were expelled from the land for their disobedience to the Most High and only the Most High will sort out ALL who stand with Him or against him, those who are fit to be part of His kingdom or not. It would be much mor worthwhile for all of us to humble ourselves and atone for our sins, so as to be considered acceptable to the Most High in the kingdom to come, than to deny the rights of and existence of our brethren, who actually are a semitic people.

        Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        Ken, I’m going against my better judgement in responding, but here goes *deep breath*. I believe individual rights trump national rights, and the first organized WZO settlements chose to violate them when its agents had the peasants evicted in their original land deals. At some point you have to stick ancient history in a black box. We have a set of int’l conventions today that didn’t exist 3000 years ago which make deliberate expulsion of civilians a warcrime. There’s no military to impartially enforce int’l law, but we have the consciousness to presume the action is wrong. The Zionists knew back in the late 1890’s-early 20’s they might be committing such an action eventually, therefore I have no sympathy for their movement.

        I don’t care about the Torah or the Quran, Moses or Mohammed. Israel was created through warcrimes and it’s an obscenity to pretend dislike for racist persecution on the one hand and then defend the Plan Dalet expulsions or try to cover them up. If something is an affront to your values, you don’t ask for raw numbers or percentage points. It’s simply not relevant if the victims are Muslim, Christian or Buddhist. The propaganda would change, not the crime.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Meryl Steinberg

      This is the first time I’ve come to this site. More than concern over who is funding, I am interested if there is truth being told. Reporting a March is not supporting murderers. Both Israelis and Palestinians are naturally going to view history and support for their actions based on the naturally disparate circumstances that create a narrow view of the situation. We tend to focus on what the problems are and all the troubles from the past. What is missing is any cohesive vision of how to live in Peace in the future. How to improve each of our lives with the teachings our respective religions and/or spiritual practices? Life is challenging. Loving and Listening makes a difference in personal relationships, community relationships and relationships in countries who find themselves at war. Thankfully, there are many groups of Palestinians and Israelis that are doing just that.

      Reply to Comment
      • JP

        Thank you Meryl for the voice of reason and compassion!

        Reply to Comment
    8. Brian Jr

      The Palistinians sure get involved with lots of nonsense.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Hannah

      How can they be the Jewish voice for peace when all they do is talk about how bad Israel is? Bunch of retards!

      Reply to Comment

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