Demonstrations in Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Syria were held on Sunday 6th June, as protesters marched on Israel’s borders to mark the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Naksa – the day Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The protests symbolize the peaceful determination of Palestinians to realize their right of return.

The Israeli occupation army killed at least 23 people, including a woman and a 12-year-old boy, and wounded more than 350 after Israeli forces opened fire along the border with Syria – to disperse pro-Palestinian demonstrators attempting to enter the Israeli-occupied portion of the Syrian Golan Heights.
Protesters waved Palestinian flags and threw rocks and rubbish over the border marking the frontier. They eventually managed to cut through coils of barbed wire, entering a buffer zone and crawling towards a second fence guarded by Israeli troops. This was when Israeli soldiers began shooting directly at the protesters.

Sunday’s protests were to observe “Naksa Day” or “Day of Defeat”, marking the 44th anniversary of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. They were designed to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes in the Israeli wars of aggressions in 1948 and 1967. So far denied the Right of Return, there are now around half a million Palestinian refugees live across 13 camps in Syria.

The US emphasised that Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself and the US state department expressed its concern over the clashes, saying: “We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights resulting in injuries and the loss of life, while calling for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided.”

However, these protests illustrate Palestinians’ determination to reclaim their rights – from the occupied territories to the 1948 territories, and in the Diaspora and in the refugee camps throughout the region. The right of return is one of the most important rights for the Palestinians as around 67% of the Palestinian population are refugees – 7.1 million of a total of 10.6 million Palestinians. Their right to go back to their home in historic Palestine is recognized by International Law and UN resolution 192.

Protests to mark the Naksa also took place in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.

In the occupied West Bank, clashes broke out at the main crossing into Jerusalem as several hundred young Palestinians tried to approach the checkpoint. According to Palestinian sources, in the refugee camp of Qalandia, near Jerusalem and Ramallah, at least 90 protesters were injured as members of the Israeli Occupation Force tried to storm the camp. These sources also claimed that Israeli soldiers were using special bullets and tear gas to stop the protests.

Demonstrations were organised against the Israeli occupation, settlements and the Apartheid Wall, and were conducted in the West Bank villages of Bil’in, Na’alin, Nabi Saleh, al Masara and Beit Ummar. In Budrus a demonstration was held against an Israeli quarry located on the land of Palestinian villages.

In Bil’in, demonstrators carried two huge maps of Palestine that marked the Palestinian land lost in 1948 and 1967. Israeli soldiers shot tear gas and skunk water at the protestors when they reached the Apartheid Wall. Tear gas canisters caused several small fires and burnt numerous olive trees. Soldiers continued shooting toward the olive groves with the goal of setting trees on fire, even after the demonstration ended and protesters returned to the village.

The village of Nabi Saleh, in the Ramallah area, sees weekly demonstrations against the occupation and settlements, with Palestinians, Israelis and international activists taking part. This week, the army had blocked the village entrances and exits several hours before the demonstration began.

In Lebanon as well, Palestinian refugees demonstrated for the 44th anniversary of the Naksa. In the 12 Palestinian camps, shops were closed and black flags were hung in mourning, especially in the camp of Ain el-Helou, where Palestinians marched, denouncing “Israeli crimes” and calling on Arab nations to join the struggle to reclaim the land of Palestine.

The Lebanese army has strengthened its presence around the camps, especially in the South where dams were installed on the road to the border. Lebanese authorities had expressed their determination to prevent any march to the border with Israel, and Lebanese officials had held meetings with Palestinian leaders to encourage them to cancel a repeat of the protests on Israel’s borders on Nakba Day (15th May) this year, which left 16 protesters dead.

Instead, Palestinians held sit-ins and marches in the refugee camps, chanting that the time of defeats was over and that the Palestinian people were “ready to achieve their dream of the right of return.”
Palestinian organizations in Lebanon also called for a day of anger and protest on Monday in all refugee camps in Lebanon to object to the “massacres” committed by the Israelis in the Golan Heights.

Neighbouring Jordan saw its share of protest too. Hundreds of people participated in a march that started at the Hanbali mosque after the Friday prayers and moved towards the Ras Al-Ain district to mark the Naksa day.

Participants in the march, organised by opposition parties, carried placards that condemned occupation and the Wadi Araba peace agreement between Jordan and Israel, that reaffirmed the Palestinian right of return and that rejected the notion of an alternative home in Jordan for the refugees.

Chants included: “people want the cancelation of Wadi Araba accord” and “people want to cleanse Rabia” – a reference to the Amman neighbourhood were the Israeli occupation embassy stands.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), that has ruled since Mubarak was deposed in February this year, have restricted Palestinian use of the Rafah crossing to enter Gaza – after announcing it would be opened the week before.

Tensions over conditions at the Rafah terminal have been building since Hamas accused Egypt this week of placing limits on the number of people allowed through. Hamas border officials said Egypt had set a maximum of 350 Gaza residents to be granted entry each day, and that hundreds of would-be travellers out of the coastal strip had been turned back.

These movements are a direct consequence of the revolutions and the popular uprisings the region this year. The liberation of the Arab peoples from authoritarian and repressive regimes is definitely a step forward and brings the region closer to the achievement of the full rights of Palestinians. This a spur to support the revolutionary processes of each country in the region, and make these revolutions permanent.

This will lead to a region free of Imperialism and realize the dream of a free Palestine.

Viva the Permanent Revolution! Viva Palestine!