Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day, meaning catastrophe day, looking back on the mass displacements of 1948.
Each year on 15 May, a day after the anniversary of the State of Israel’s founding, Palestinians recall the suffering inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people forced to leave their homes and villages.
The anniversary is traditionally marked by mass rallies in the West Bank and Gaza. Participants continue to demand the right to return to the lands that were forced from their families.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, dozens of Palestinians clashed with troops at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah. The Palestinians hurled stones at the soldiers, who fired tear gas and other non- lethal crowd-control measures in an attempt to disperse the protest.
In Ramallah, the PNA called on residents to assemble at Yasser Arafat Square for a major rally, and announced that it was canceling work and studies in order to allow as many people as possible to attend, according to the Times of Israel.
The Israeli army and police have also beefed up forces along the borders with Syria and Lebanon to counter possible protest marches.
Concerned over events spilling out of control, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz reportedly said: “We are hoping for the best and getting ready for the worst.”
Gantz made the remarks prior to Monday night’s signing of an Egyptian-brokered deal between Israel and some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners to end a month-long hunger strike over the detention conditions and a demand to end the so-called administrative detention.
PNA President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated the strikers, calling the move the first step towards ensuring their eventual release.
Last year, Nakba Day rallies escalated into violence that resulted in 16 deaths and hundreds of injuries, when troops opened fire on pro-Palestinian protesters at the Lebanese, Syrian and Gaza borders.