Thousands Gather on Ruins of Village to Commemorate Nakba Day

Palestinians stage symbolic return to village of Lubya, now the Lower Galilee in northern Israel, with large procession and Palestinian flags.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Thousands of people commemorated the Palestinian Nakba on Tuesday by participating in a procession on the ruins of the village of Lubya in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel.

Nakba Day is held in conjunction with Israeli Independence Day to commemorate the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were uprooted during the 1948 War of Independence. Tuesday was the fourteenth year in succession that Nakba Day had been held.

Elsewhere in the Lower Galilee, communities celebrated Independence Day in celebrations organized by the local regional council. There was a large police presence in the area throughout the day.

Participants in the Nakba Day procession carried Palestinian flags and placards bearing the names of villages that were uprooted and destroyed in 1948. They also shouted slogans calling on the Palestinian leadership and the international community to continue demanding the return of Palestinian refugees to their land.

Wakim Wakim, secretary of the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, said that the purpose of the procession was to "say that we are opposed to racism, aggression and all attempts to wipe out our memories and uproot our villages."

The land of the destroyed village of Lubya is now occupied by the Israeli town of Lavi and two national parks, the Lavi Pine Forest and the South African Park.

On Monday, a group of young Palestinians erected an encampment on the site of the village with symbolic recreations of the village well and mosque. Rasoul Sa'ada, one of the organizers, said the encampment represented the symbolic return of Palestinians to their land.

"We want to send a message to everyone, telling the story of the Palestinian Nakba," Sa'ada said. "The intention is to include the general public, including the Israeli public, in the story of the Nakba and what happened in 1948. The younger generation doesn't forget and will not forget."

Haj Mohammed Jouddah, who was 14 in 1948, told how he and his family had left the village of Dir Hana out of fear. "Most of my family and most of the villagers left for Syria and Lebanon. I remember where our house was and where the mosque and cemetery were. Everything is destroyed now, but the olive and fig trees and the stones testify to what was here."

While the Palestinian community in Israel has celebrated Nakba Day in conjunction with Independence Day over the past 14 years, the official day marking the Nakba is celebrated on May 15 in the West Bank and Gaza.

In recent years, the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced has established funds for the commemoration of the uprooted villages and for the maintenance of cemeteries, mosques and churches which are still standing in some places.

Participants in the Nakba Day event on the site of the village of Lubya.
Nakba Day commemoration
Participants in the Nakba Day event on the site of the village of Lubya.
Nakba Day commemoration
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Nakba Day commemorationCredit: Gil Eliyahu
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Participants in the Nakba Day event on the site of the village of Lubya.
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Nakba Day commemorationCredit: Gil Eliyahu

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