JERUSALEM – Palestinians are expected Wednesday to hold marches in the Gaza Strip to commemorate Nakba Day, which this year marks 71 years since Israel’s creation and the subsequent displacement of thousands of Palestinian refugees.
The Israeli military has raised the state of alert over possible violent protests on the anniversary, which coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.
The marches are planned to take place about 70 kilometers (43 miles) away from Tel Aviv, where thousands of tourists, Eurovision fans and music bands from all over Europe have come to watch and take part in the contest.
The Israeli military does not expect a flare-up to take place following the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with the Palestinian side after an escalation of violence earlier this month left 25 Palestinians and four Israelis dead in Gaza.
Israel has taken measures to ease tensions such as expanding the Gazan fishing zone and reopening border crossings to allow Qatari funds into Gaza.
In exchange, the coastal enclave has halted launching incendiary balloons and rockets into Israeli territory.
The Palestinian committee organizing the marches on the border area has reiterated that it hoped that Wednesday’s protests would be peaceful.
Israeli troops are also on alert in the occupied territory of the West Bank for potentially violent protests as well, Israel’s Army Radio said.
Amnesty International said: “Israel’s failure to respect the right to return for Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes in 1948 is a flagrant violation of international law.”
“More than 70 years after the conflict that followed Israel’s creation, the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes and dispossessed of their land as a result continue to face the devastating consequences,” said AI’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther.
“There can be no lasting solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis until Israel respects Palestinian refugees’ right to return.”
The Nakba Day commemoration comes a day after marking one year since the United States moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Nakba means “catastrophe” in Arabic and Palestinians use it to refer to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.