As Israelis across the country celebrated their Independence Day, more than 10,000 Palestinians living in Israel and Jerusalem converged on the site of the northern village of Lubya, one of more than 500 Palestinian communities destroyed by nationalist militias in the Nakba.

Alternative Information Center (AIC) | 08 May 2014

Most of Lubya’s original inhabitants settled in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the suburbs of Damascus, which has been the site of intense siege and suffering in Syria’s armed conflict.

Arabic for ‘catastrophe’, Nakba is the term given to the forced displacement of some 750,000 Palestinian refugees before, during and since the creation of the state of Israel, the AIC reports.

Palestinians observe Nakba Day on May 15, but Palestinian citizens of Israel hold demonstrations on Israeli Independence Day, which follows the Hebrew calendar and fell on Tuesday, May 6 of this year.

As Jewish onlookers cheered and waved Israeli flags, police confiscated several Palestinian flags from passing cars.

Even before many could reach the site, bumper-to-bumper traffic caused many marchers to leave their cars and buses and continue the remaining kilometers on foot. At several points, a heavy police presence stood between Israeli Jews having barbecues in adjacent parts of Lavi Forest, which the Jewish National Fund planted over the rubble of Lubya’s homes.

As marchers approached the site of the village, they passed massive photos of refugee families displayed among the JNF trees.

Activists with the Israeli organization Zochrot, whose mission is to educate Israeli Jews about the history of the Nakba, also placed signs in Arabic, Hebrew and English at various locations of significance to village life, including the cemetery, which contains the primary visible remains of the village.

Speakers at the event included Samer Issawi, whose record-setting hunger strike in Israeli prison resulted in his release last December, as well as historian Ilan Pappe, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

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