Thousands of Arab Israelis March on Empty Palestinian Village to Commemorate Nakba

The village of Khubbayza was destroyed in the 1948 war and remains unpopulated. This is the 22nd year that a 'march of return' is held on Israel's Independence Day

The march on the Palestinian village of Khubbayza in northern Israel, May 9, 2019.
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Thousands of Israeli Arabs marked Nakba Day on Thursday in a march on the empty Palestinian village of Khubbayza in northern Israel.

This is the 22nd time such a march has taken place. Although the official Nakba Day takes place on May 15, a march is held annually on Israeli Independence Day, each time at a different Palestinian village demolished in the 1947-49 war.

>> Read more: What is Nakba Day? A brief history

Nakba, the Arabic word for disaster or catastrophe, is the Palestinian term used to describe Israel's founding and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs during the war.

One of the organizers for Thursday's event, Mohammed Kial, said one challenge facing the Palestinian people is an attempt to undermine issues including the Palestinian demand for a right of return.

The march on the Palestinian village of Khubbayza in northern Israel, May 9, 2019.
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Thursday's march was organized by the Association for the Defense of the Rights for the Internally Displaced Persons in Israel and supported by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel. 

Organizers said the number of participants was lower than last year, citing the Ramadan fast and delays in receiving permits from the police.

Khubbayza, which is near Haifa, fell to Jewish forces between May 12 and 14, 1948, and was razed by the Jewish National Fund the following month, according to the website of the nonprofit group Zochrot. 

Today Khubbayza remains unpopulated, surrounded by cultivated land and pastures. 

According to MK Ahmad Tibi (Hadash-Ta'al), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Meir Kahane, a far-rightist who was assassinated in 1990, "said that we have 22 states, but the truth is that we have only one homeland and more than 500 uprooted villages."

As Tibi put it, "This is a narrative they're trying to erase, and this is the history they're trying to rewrite. Neither the nation-state law nor the demolition of houses can change that." 

MK Mtanes Shehadeh (United Arab List-Balad) added that "we won't agree to any one-sided solution that doesn't take the Palestinian issue into account."

Former Hadash lawmaker and head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, Mohammed Barakeh, referred to the increased violence in Israel's Arab community and called for a wide effort to put pressure on the police to act against organized crime. 

Meanwhile, at a press conference, the organizing committee for Gaza's March of Return called for a general strike on May 15, urging mass participation in marches near the Gaza-Israel border fence.