Nakba solidarity demonstrations held throughout world 16May11 May 19, 2011

The Alternative Information Centre -  16 May 2011

In addition to the Nakba commemorations held throughout Palestine, solidarity demonstrations were further held in London, Jordan, Egypt and numerous other western states. Demonstrations in Arab countries met with violent reactions from state forces.

Some 50,000 Palestinian refugees from refugee camps throughout Lebanon participated in a demonstration in Maroun al Ras, a village in southern Lebanon overlooking the border with Israel. “I expected 21,000 at the most. There weren’t enough buses to bring everyone,” said Mahmoud Zeidan, amongst the organisers of the demonstration who resides in the Ain al Hilweh refugee camp, located near the Sidon port and one of the largest refugee camps in Lebanon. “Ain al Hilweh looked deserted. I haven’t seen it so empty since the Israeli invasion in 1982, when everyone was evacuated,” added Zeidan.

A group of 300-400 demonstrators approached the border fence and began to throw stones at the Israeli soldiers. Lebanese soldiers stood between the demonstrators and the border. At this stage Israeli soldiers began to shoot at the demonstrators, who continued to advance past the Lebanese soldiers despite the Israeli firing. Several demonstrators were killed by Israeli fire. The exact number of killed is unknown, and according to reports more than ten were killed. Although the village of Maroun al Ras is under Hizbullah control and in contradiction to Israeli contentions, the group played a minor role in organising the demonstration, which was initiated and organised primarily by activists from the various Palestinian refugee camps.

In Cairo the Egyptian military and security forces attacked a demonstration commemorating the Nakba that was conducted across from the Israeli Embassy. Demonstrators attempted to pass the blocks placed in the embassy entrance, and in response soldiers began shooting massive quantities of tear gas. Later soldiers began to fire rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Demonstrators responded by burning tires and throwing rocks. The demonstration was eventually dispersed at 4am, when soldiers detained the last remaining demonstrators.

Some 120 demonstrators were injured, at least 3 from live fire. One demonstrator suffered a head wound and is reported in critical condition. Reports of death were also registered, although they could not be independently confirmed.

The Egyptian army also set up roadblocks on the road from Cairo to Rafah and prevented bus companies from transporting people from Cairo to the demonstration held near the Rafah border.

In Jordan over 6,000 people demonstrated near the al Karame border in solidarity with Palestinian Nakba demonstrations. Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans. The demonstration was violently dispersed by Jordanian police, who beat demonstrators with sticks and shot tear gas at them. Several demonstrators were reported injured.

In Madrid hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the Israeli Embassy, and called on the Spanish government to cut its diplomatic ties with Israel. This demonstration was held on the backdrop of attempts by Israel to convince the Spanish government to prevent its citizens from participating in the coming flotilla to Gaza, planned for June.

Tens of protesters also participated in a demonstration commemorating the Nakba in Toronto and held signs in the form of keys, symbolising homes that the refugees were forced to abandon, and signs denouncing the Canadian government’s financial support to Israel.

Demonstrations commemorating the Nakba were also held in other cities throughout Canada, in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Austria, Bulgaria, Holland, Turkey, Tunisia, Australia and the United States.

Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

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