Israeli forces suppress Nakba march and arrest coordinator of the Popular Campaign in Bethlehem
15-5-2013 Yesterday Israeli forces arrested Mazen al-Azzeh, coordinator of the Popular Campaign against the Wall and settlements in Bethlehem. This took place while he participated in a march in Bethlehem to mark 65 years of the Nakba (catastrophe). The presence of heavily armed military occupation forces at the beginning of the march surprised the participants; this presence soon turned to suppression of the demonstration and prosecution and assaults on citizens when participants reached the so-called “checkpoint 60”.
The march began in front of Dheisheh refugee camp and proceeded in the direction of the territories that were occupied in 1948. Dozens of local citizens and representatives of national powers participated, along with the Committee for Right to Return. The right to return to the lands that were confiscated from Palestinians in 1948 is considered a sacred right and those involved in the march were there to assert and emphasize this.
Thousands also gathered in Bethlehem’s Manger Square on Tuesday to hold a series of commemoration events. The director of Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Najwa Darwish, inaugurated the event and said the "Nakba has always been the deepest wound in our modern history as more than 70 percent of our people are still identified as refugees, either in camps or in the Diaspora".
During the march a number of citizens were injured, including paramedics and medical relief workers, as a result of tear gas, sound bombs and metal bullets fired by the soldiers. One person was hit in the jaw and many suffered from suffocation due to tear gas.
Mazen al-Azzeh was dragged off by Israeli soldiers to the Gush Etzion camp, located between Hebron and Bethlehem, and was arrested on fabrication of charges of stone throwing and attacking Israeli soldiers. He will be detained until Thursday (16/5/13) when his first trial will take place. It is worth noting that this is the fourth time Mazen al-Azzeh has been arrested this year. Two days ago he was also deliberately hit by a sound bomb fired by occupation soldiers.
Salah al-Khawaja, the leader of the Palestinian Initiative and the Popular Resistance, said that “The continued policy of arrests and intentional injuries to activists will not deter us. We will not only continue our popular activities and combative actions against the separation wall but we will organize more advanced methods of confronting the occupation policy”.
This event takes place within the framework of national and popular events organized in memory of the Nakba, on Wednesday 15th May. This day will be a day of anger and protests throughout the Palestinian territories.