Largest Palestinian protest since start of intifada

Below is an abridged statement by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Campaign.

Over 50,000 people filled the streets of Ramallah today, marking the 60th anniversary of al Nakba ("the catastrophe", the Palestinian term for the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the founding of Israel) with the largest protest since the start of the second intifada (uprising) in September 2000.

The Palestinian Nakba of 1948 saw more than 750,000 people expelled from 531 localities by Zionist forces. Hundreds of these villages were razed while Palestinian land and properties were seized.

Other actions were held across Palestine and in Palestinian communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

In Ramallah, crowds marched to the central Manara square, accompanied by marching bands, bringing traffic to a standstill. At the central rally, speakers called for the return of the Palestinian refugees and an end to the ongoing attacks on Palestinian communities.

Black balloons were released, part of mass release of balloons across Palestine — 21,915 in total, one for each day since al Nakba.

The demonstration was organised by the National Committee to Commemorate al Nakba, who released a statement calling for national unity to move forward with the campaign against the occupation.

Other mass demonstrations took place across Palestine, in the West Bank, Gaza and inside the "1948 lines" (Israel). Palestinians in the refugee camps of Lebanon and in Amman also mobilised to call for their rights.

Sixty years on, the Palestinian call for their return echoes louder than ever.