Jerusalem, May 15 (EFE).- Israeli forces were on high alert on Sunday amid fears of violence as Palestinians marked the 74th anniversary of Nakba Day.
Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic, the day on which Palestinians mourn the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
This year’s Nakba Day coincides with the funeral of a Palestinian named Walid al-Sharif, who died on Saturday weeks after he was hit by rubber bullets during clashes with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound on April 22.
It also comes on the same day that another Palestinian, Daoud Zubeidi, succumbed to wounds sustained during a shootout with Israeli forces in Jenin on Friday.
Zubeidi, 41, was the brother of Zakaria Zubeidi, the former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, and one of six prisoners who escaped high-security Gilboa prison in September. They were all found a week later.
Friday’s clashes in Jenin also resulted in the death of Noam Raz, a member of an Israeli elite anti-terror police unit.
Since late March, 18 Israelis have been killed in six attacks by Palestinians, while Israel’s retaliatory raids in the occupied West Bank have left some 50 Palestinians dead, including Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose funeral was held on Friday in Jerusalem amid tense and emotional scenes.
The Gaza-ruling Hamas Islamist movement on Saturday called on Palestinians to gather at al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, to commemorate Nakba, as well as to block Jewish settlers from accessing the site to perform animal sacrifices for Pesach Sheni, also known as the Second Passover.
“The calls by radical groups to storm al-Aqsa on Sunday, the Nakba anniversary, under the protection of the Israeli occupation authorities, are a serious escalation aimed at offending the feelings of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim world, as well as well as promoting an open conflict for which the occupation will bear all responsibility,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said on Saturday evening.
Demonstrations were also planned for Sunday in cities of the occupied West Bank, such as Ramallah and Jericho.
Some 750,000 Palestinians had to flee their homes in 1946, when the Arab-Israeli conflict began, until May 1948, when the state of Israel was created. They have since been denied the right of return. EFE