Tuesday marks Palestine's Nakba Day, but with peace talks stalled, settlements expanding daily, and weakened political leadership pandering to hardliners, hope this year comes not from politicians or governments, but from the momentum and leadership of organizers in Palestinian civil society.
PolicyMic will be live blogging Nakba Day, providing timely updates about the protests and activity on the ground. For real-time updates, refresh this page.
Nightfall: By nightfall, there were no reports of casualties, with the ongoing coordinated nonviolent actions throughout the territories and in the region continuing. This stands in stark contrast to last year's events in which over a dozen Palestinian protesters were killed in demonstrations on the Palestinian's Nakba Day of 2011. Ultimately, the demonstrations garnered international attention and support by continuing the momentum of the courageous Palestinian hunger strikes of the past month. Photo by Palestinian photographer, Hamdi Abu Rahma, in Ramallah City.
6:30 PM: Clashes continued with Israeli security forces at Ofer prison in the West Bank. According to a spokesperson from the Palestine Medical Red Crescent, 216 protesters were treated for teargas inhalation, 64 for rubber-coated steel bullets injuries, and 19 were hospitalized. Photo via ActiveStills.
4:05 PM: Solidarity demonstrations erupt in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Protests began outside the Arab League at 2:00 PM calling for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS). Photo of Egyptian solidarity action with Palestinian prisoners by Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist activist, Omar Yazeed.
3:00 PM: Clashes with Israeli security forces lasted throughout the day at Qalandia Checkpoint into Jerusalem. According to a spokesperson from the Palestine Medical Red Crescent, 92 protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation, over 50 for injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets, and 5 were hospitalized. Photo by Hamdi Abu Rahma in Ramallah.
2:00 PM: Hundreds of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to Ofer prison where clashes erupted throughout the day with Israeli forces. According to Radio France International's correspondent Ruth Michaelson, "the demonstrations at Ofer were characterized by a sense of renewed determination from the success of the hunger strikes," despite what she described as "a heightened response from the IDF, firing on protesters from three sides." Photo of injured Palestinian protester near Ofer prison via ActiveStills.
1:00 PM: The body that represents Arabs and Palestinians in Israel, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, called for a general strike today in memory of Nakba Day. Arab and Palestinian Israeli citizens make up about 20% of Israel's population and stem from the 160,000 who remained within the 1948 Armistice line during the 1948 War and were granted Israeli citizenship. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee encouraged its constituents to go to displaced Palestinian villages and declared solidarity with the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike.
12:30 PM: Undercover Israeli police detained and clashed with Palestinian protesters in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya throughout the morning. Full story (and photo) by Reuters here.
Tuesday 12:00 PM: Sirens sounded in Ramallah as thousands gathered for commemoration of the Palestinian's Nakba Day in which over 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes inside the 1948 Armistice line. Israel refused to allow Palestinian civilians to return to their homes and property in violation of international law -- a move that serves as the basis of the Palestinians' demand for a "right to return" in negotiations with Israel. Picture via Israeli journalist Joseph Dana.
11:00 AM: Thousands gathered for demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, rallying around the cry "We will return." Protesters named Palestinian villages that were taken in the 1948 war and declared a right to their families' land. The symbol of the key (as seen in this mural) represents the keys Palestinians have to their homes which now lie within the Green Line in Israel Proper. Photo via Reuters.
10:21 AM: Clashes erupt between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in East Jerusalem demonstrations. Palestinians in East Jerusalem were cut off from their Palestinian brethren in the 1967 War in which Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai. Israel eventually annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, although this move is not recognized by the international community. Click here for Al Arabiya's video from today's protests, and photo via ActiveStills.
10:13 AM: Today there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Statistics via United Nations Relief & Works Agency.
9:26 AM: Tweeps from around the Arab world expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian's Nakba Day. The tweet of renowned journalist Dima Khatib went viral, telling the story of many families like hers.
7:30 AM: Protests are scheduled throughout the Palestinian territories. Major demonstrations are expected in Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Qalandia Checkpoint, outside Bethlehem, Gaza City, and near Ofer prison. Demonstrations on Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria are not expected this year, despite the bloody clashes of Nakba Day 2011 at those flashpoints. Photograph via Reuters.
6:45 AM: Israeli officials report explosive device/projectile launched from Gaza landed in southern Israel. Fortunately, there were no injuries or death. It is unclear if the attack was related to Nakba day events.
Tuesday 5:00 AM: #PalHunger Strike Solidarity images go viral. After days of spreading throughout Palestinian networks, the solidarity image (and variations of the image) go viral through Facebook profile pictures and twitter handles across the globe. The image depicts the 4,800 Palestinian prisoners blindfolded in Israeli prisons.
Monday 5/14: After nearly 2,000 Palestinians engage in a mass hunger strike, Israel makes human rights concessions meeting some of the prisoners' demands. The move comes after one-third of Palestinian prisoners participated the mass action, several for over 70 days. Their demands included family visitation, an end to solitary confinement, and an end to Israel's policy of "administrative detention" that holds Palestinians indefinitely without charges or trial. The move comes before the Palestinian's 64th Nakba Day, a day commemorating the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians from what is now Israel Proper. Full article here via Al Jazeera English.
BACKGROUND: Though non-violent organizing has always been at the core of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian’s Popular Struggle has been particularly keen on communicating this strategy-of-choice to a Western audience, an audience so often misled by Orientalist operating assumptions inherent in Western coverage of the Arab world.
Through a sophisticated network of multi-lingual outreach and strategic messaging, the Popular Struggle and its allies have tirelessly worked to challenge the unrepresentative and misleading international image of the Palestinian resistance -- the terrorist -- with the true face of the struggle: the Palestinian civilian engaged in decades-strong civil resistance.
In just this past month, one-third of all the Palestinians in Israeli prisons engaged in a mass hunger strike to demand such basic human rights as family visitation and an end to Israel’s policy of “administrative detention,” or unlimited detention without charges or trial.
Several prisoners struggled nearly to the death on hunger strike for over 70 days; yet their risky actions succeeded in eliciting concessions from the Israeli government on Monday night. This hunger strike, combined with the mass demonstrations and general strikes called today on their Nakba Day, represent the latest in the Popular Struggle’s multi-layered strategy of coordinated nonviolent action against Israeli oppression. Whether its their relentless weekly protests against Israel’s annexation of the West Bank or their ever-growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, courageous acts of civil resistance not only characterize the heart of Palestinian struggle but also give hope and momentum for not only peace, but peace with justice.