Socialist Worker

Nakba protests spark regional resistance

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2252

Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians as tens of thousands marched on Israel’s borders last weekend.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, took part in the protests to mark the anniversary of the Nakba.

The Nakba, or catastrophe, happened in 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes when Israel was created.

The protests were the biggest and most militant in years, encouraged by the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Egypt, government troops blocked the roads and forbade coach drivers from taking

protesters to the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Sunday.

Instead, thousands of Palestinians joined Egyptian protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Calls to shut down the embassy have been raised throughout the Egyptian revolution. The army and military police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds at protesters. At least one person was killed and 120 hospitalised.


In Syria, people surged through the Golan Heights, which Israel illegally occupies. Up to ten protesters were killed and scores injured by the Israeli army.

In Lebanon, 12 people were killed as Palestinians flooded from refugee camps towards Israel’s borders. They were joined by Lebanese nationals.

People in the city of Ramallah, in the West Bank, lit barricades and threw stones as they marched to the Kalandiya crossing into Israel. Israeli soldiers fired live rounds, hospitalising four people.

Israel’s dominance has been undermined by this year’s revolutions. Ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was an intensely loyal ally.

The unity pact between Palestinian organisations Hamas and Fatah is also a threat. In response on 1 May Israel began to hold back the tax revenue it collects “on behalf” of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Public sector workers rely on this money and were going without pay. Eventually Israel transferred the money under huge pressure from Western governments who still dream of a diplomatic solution.

Israel controls every aspect of Palestinian life. The apartheid wall dominates towns and villages near Israel’s border with the West Bank. Children must pass checkpoints run by Israeli soldiers to get to school.

Israel refuses to allow in hundreds of everyday items—from building materials to types of food—claiming they will be used for terrorism.


Many in Gaza survive on supplies brought through secret tunnels from Egypt.

The unity between the Palestinians, and the mass uprisings against the regimes which have been complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians, mark an important turn.

The Egyptian revolution remains central. The military government claims it will permanently reopen the Rafah crossing with Gaza. But the blocking of these latest protests shows that many demands of the revolution are still to be fought for.

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Tue 17 May 2011, 18:18 BST
Issue No. 2252
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