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Hundreds of Israeli Arabs on Wednesday visited the sites of Palestinian villages that had been demolished during the War of Independence as part of the Nakba Day events, which commemorate the defeat of the Palestinian Arab community in the war.

The main commemoration event took place in the site of the demolished Palestinian village of Kafrayn, near Haifa. Numerous police deployed in the area in a bid to pre-empt clashes between Arabs and Jewish protesters, who arrived at the scene early in the morning.

Hadash Chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh visited the Galilee village of Saffuriyeh, today the Jewish Moshav of Tzipori, where his ancestors lived.

"Their Independence Day is our Nakba [catastrophe]," he said. "Passing our heritage from one generation to the next is essential for our steadfastness and survival in our homeland. Our survival is not open to interpretation or negotiation, and is our formative feature as a community that narrowly escaped the threat of expulsion and remained in its country."

Barakeh vowed that the villages would be rebuilt.

"History might have neglected the Right of Return, but we never will," he said.