Palestine marks the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day or "Catastrophe Day" after a bloody protest which claimed the lives of over 55 Palestinians, who demonstrated in opposition of the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
On Monday, government spokesperson Yousef al-Mahmoud announced a general strike for Tuesday to commemorate the Nakba. “Based on instructions by President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians will observe a general strike and all government institutions and departments will be closed,” al-Mahmoud stated.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) called the strike across the West Bank and Gaza regions in response to the deaths of demonstrators, who were killed by Israeli troops at a border protest Monday, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
The agency added that PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef announced a "complete strike" across the Palestinian Territories "to mourn the martyrdom," while the United Kingdom, France, the European Union, Egypt and the United Nations rights chief demanded that Israel ‘take greater care to prevent the deaths’ of the protesters.
Nakba Day highlights the beginning of Israeli occupation, which began in 1948 after some 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homeland. About five million Palestinians remain in displacement.
Seven decades ago Israeli militias helped to form the state of Israel by depopulating Palestinian villages by displaying more than half a million people from their homes. Some Palestinians fled prior to the displacement, while the more resistant villages – like Deir Yassin – were destroyed.
Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian government minister, said: “The Nakba is the turning point for all Palestinians. Commemorating the Nakba is about taking a stand for resistance, and in particular for self-determination and statehood.
“For Palestinians, the Nakba is also a continuing affair that only started in 1948, but continued through 1967 and until today, with Jerusalem,” the ex-minister explained to Arab News.
Israel was established on nearly 78 percent of historic Palestine, through the seizure or destruction of some 400 Palestinian villages. Israel also commandeered Occupied Palestinian Territories – the remaining 22 percent of Palestine – in the 1967 war.
Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion remarked early on that he supported “compulsory transfer” and saw nothing “immoral in it.” Additionally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in recent times that there will never be a Palestinian state.
International law, dictated by UN Security Council resolutions and International Court of Justice edicts, has repeatedly advised that Israel withdraw from those regions to no avail.