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Israeli forces fire on Palestinians at Nakba march

Several Palestinians including a journalist were injured when Israeli forces opened fire on a march in the eastern Nablus village of Huwwara commemorating the Nakba on May 16. Hundreds of Palestinians reportedly took part in the march that set off towards the Huwwara military checkpoint carrying black flags and demanding the Palestinians' right of return. Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber coated steel bullets at the march. Many were reported to have suffered excessive tear-gas inhalation, while several others, including a Palestinian journalist, were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets before being taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital for treatment.

Palestinian medical sources told Ma'an News Agency that Nidal Ishtayeh, a Palestinian journalist working for the Xinhua Chinese news agency, was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet above his eye. The bullet burst through the glass visor of his gas mask, showering his eye with glass. A member of the Palestinian People's Party's politburo Khalid Mansour was also injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet, as was an Italian protester who was hit by two rubber-coated steel bullets in both her hand and chest.

The organizers told Ma'an that the goal of the march had been to send a clear message to Israel that Palestinians are still holding onto their right of return. The Nakba, or "catastrophe," was commemorated across the West Bank on Friday, May 15, and marks the date of Israel's creation in 1948, when more than 760,000 Palestinians were violently expelled from their homes.

Palestinian refugees are estimated today to number around 5.5 million with their descendants, and the right to return to their homes is a prerequisite for any Palestinian peace agreement with Israel, although Israel has rejected the demand out of hand.

At least 21 Palestinians were injured when Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber and live bullets at Nakba Day protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on May 16. A number of Palestinians were also injured in the Nablus district when clashes broke out with Israeli military forces during a prayer ceremony attended by up to 4,000 Jewish settlers at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.

From Ma'an News Agency, May 16

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