Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate to mark ‘Nakba’

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Israeli forces send tear gas on Palestinian men observing clashes along the Israeli fence during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba in El-Burej in the central Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
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A wounded Palestinian woman is carried away from the border fence during a protest with Israeli forces east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019, during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba. (AFP)
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Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the 'Nakba' near the Israel-Gaza border fence, east of Gaza City May 15, 2019. (Reuters)
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A Palestinian man rides a camel during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba in El-Burej in the central Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Palestinian protesters throw back Israeli tear gas canisters during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest marking the 71st anniversary of Nakba in El-Burej in the central Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2019
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Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate to mark ‘Nakba’

  • In the West Bank city of Ramallah, protesters held up giant paper keys to symbolize their will to return to the lands and homes they were expelled from or were forced to abandon, now located inside Israel
  • More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their land during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel

GAZA CITY: Palestinians protested Wednesday for the annual commemoration of what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were expelled or fled during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.
Thousands gathered at various locations along the volatile border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while crowds also demonstrated in the occupied West Bank.
Protests and clashes in Gaza a year earlier, which coincided with the controversial move of the US embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, had seen more than 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire but Wednesday’s were far smaller.
The clashes on Wednesday erupted along parts of the border fence, with the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reporting 65 people injured, including 16 with gunshot wounds.
Protesters largely avoided approaching the fence, an AFP journalist said.
The AFP journalist on the border saw a number of kites being floated across the border and a fire breaking out inside Israeli territory.

Palestinians in Gaza have regularly used kites with firebombs attached to them to set fires on the Israeli side of the fence.
Israel’s military said around 10,000 “rioters and demonstrators” were along the Gaza fence.
“The rioters are setting tires on fire and hurling rocks,” it said in a statement.
“A number of explosive devices have been hurled within the Gaza Strip as well, and a number of attempts have been made to approach the security fence.”
It said “troops are responding with riot dispersal means.”
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, protesters held up giant paper keys to symbolize their will to return to the lands and homes they were expelled from or were forced to abandon, now located inside Israel.
Palestinians commemorate the Nakba every year.

Opinion

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More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their land during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.
This year’s protests came two weeks after a deadly flare-up between Gaza militants and Israel which threatened to spill into a new war.
After two days a truce was reached under which Israel is meant to ease its blockade of the strip in exchange for calm, according to Hamas officials. Israel has not commented on the truce.
Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas figure, told AFP at a protest site east of Gaza City the “truce understandings played a role in controlling the demonstrations” on Wednesday.
Separately, there have also been regular protests and clashes along the Gaza border for more than a year.
At least 293 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began in March 2018.
The majority died during the often-violent weekly protests, though others were killed in Israeli air strikes or by tank fire in response to violence from Gaza.
Six Israelis have been killed in Gaza-related violence over the same time period.
Violence peaked on May 14, 2018 when 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire as tens of thousands approached the border, with many seeking to breach the fence.


UAE says joint probe into tanker attack ensures impartiality

Updated 13 min 50 sec ago
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UAE says joint probe into tanker attack ensures impartiality

  • UAE says international participation in an investigation into ‘sabotage attacks’ on oil tankers will lead to ‘impartial conclusions’
  • It also indicated the results may take time

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that the participation of several countries in an investigation into last week’s attack on oil tankers off its coast would support the “impartiality and transparency” of the findings.
The Gulf Arab state has not yet blamed anyone for the acts of sabotage on four vessels including two Saudi oil tankers, but a senior UAE official has said Abu Dhabi was concerned about Iranian behavior in the region.
“The keenness of our international partners to participate in the investigation and the concerted efforts support the impartiality and transparency in arriving at results,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement carried on state news agency WAM.
US government sources told Reuters they believe Iran encouraged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia or Iraq-based militias to carry out the operation.
Tehran has distanced itself from the attack, which comes as Iran and the United States spar over sanctions and the US military presence in the Gulf region.
The UAE foreign ministry statement welcomed the participation of several “friendly and brotherly” countries in the investigation, but did not name them. It did not give a timeframe, saying the probe would take “the time required.”
UAE officials have said that the United States and France, which has a naval base in Abu Dhabi, were participating in the investigation as well as Saudi Arabia and Norway.
A Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE fuel bunker barge were among the vessels hit near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs located just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has said Abu Dhabi would show restraint after the attack and that it was committed to de-escalation during what he described as a “difficult situation” caused by Iranian behavior in the region.
Saudi Arabia has called for emergency Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30 to discuss the implications of the tanker attack and an armed drone strike two days later on Saudi oil installations in the Kingdom, for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility.