Tuesday, May 15, 2018

LATEST: Gaza braces for more protests and violence on Nakba Day, after 59 killed

LATEST: Gaza braces for more protests and violence on Nakba Day, after 59 killed

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Last update: 
May 15 May 2018 09:37 UTC
Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba - or Catastrophe - and the culmination of the Great March of Return protests along the Gaza Strip's frontier with Israel.
  • Mass protests are expected on Tuesday in besieged Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
  • Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians on Monday in protests near the Gaza "security fence", including an eight-month-old baby.
  • The US officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem on Monday, which also marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel. 
We'll be keeping you updated here throughout the day.
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Before the Nakba: Images of Palestine then and now

Palestinian houses and cinemas, shops and mosques, train stations and markets were all lost in 1948, when thousands were driven from their homes amid the violence of the Nakba.
Tarek Bakri, a researcher and archivist based in Jerusalem, was moved by the nostalgia and emotion still held by many displaced Palestinians for their former streets and neighbourhoods and has tried to shed light on how Palestine looked before the Nakba.
“They live in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon,” he told MEE. “They contact me via social media and send me pictures of their homes. I go out to find them and take pictures of how they ended up. It was not a desert as the first Zionist settlers believed."
More of Bakri's before and after images can be found here.

Scores dead, but millions more have nothing to lose

A Palestinian is stretchered away from the Gaza perimeter fence (Reuters)
Hind Khoudary, a writer for Middle East Eye in Gaza, has filed her witness account of yesterday's carnage on the Gaza frontier, where scores of Palestinian protesters were cut down by Israeli soldiers. A list of those shot dead by Israeli forces on Monday can be found here.
The first that we knew of the massacre to come was a rush of protesters, their faces blackened from the tyres many had set alight, rushing away from the security fence and screaming for help.
At about 3pm on Monday Palestinians had got close to the fence, and the Israelis let rip - the crack of M16s and sniper rifles rang out and bodies began to drop along the perimeter.
Blood-soaked stretchers then streamed from the protest area as the injured were moved from the kill zone - many suffering bullet wounds but also some missing limbs.
But some of those injured were too near the Israeli fence, and were beyond the help of ambulances. Instead, Palestinians rushed to their aid on horseback, carts, motorbikes, and others were simply carried on the backs of their comrades, all under withering fire.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, 59 people including a paramedic and a baby were killed on Monday, and 2,410. Of those, 79 suffered neck and head injuries, 161 were injured in the upper part of the body, 62 were injured in the chest and back, 52 in the stomach and 1,055 were injured in the lower extremities.
This mid-afternoon massacre came after a morning of peaceful, but angry protest - Palestinian national songs were sung by the tens of thousands along the demonstration line, kites flew in the sky, the elderly walking with crutches towards the fence, and children holding their parents hands walking towards the fence.
There was anger over the celebration in Jerusalem as the US relocated its embassy, a symolic American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
A hint of the carnage to come could be gleaned from the boys collecting tyres to burn to creake a thick, acrid smokescreen and block the views of Israeli snipers, who had killed more than 40 people in five weeks of protest over the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homelands.
The toll from Monday's carnage topped those five weeks.
"This is the 1948 lands, it was occupied by the Israelis, we were driven from our homeland, that is why we are here demanding the right of return," said a father talking to his children, while pointing to what is now Israel.
Added to this is the situation in Gaza - 11 years of Israeli blockade, poverty, war and conditions for 1.4 million residents that have been described as the biggest open prison in the world.
That can in part explain why Palestinian youth have nothing to lose, and are prepared to put their lives on the line knowing that they can be shot and killed at any minute.