U.S. warns citizens to avoid ‘Nakba’ protests

The U.S. embassy warned Americans to avoid demonstrations this weekend marking “Nakba Day,” when Palestinians and Israeli Arabs mark their losses in Israel’s Independence War.

“As always, please be aware of your surroundings and remember that protests intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence,” said the notice sent Thursday by the embassy.  “Avoid areas of demonstrations and maintain a high level of vigilance and situational awareness while traveling to mixed Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.”

The notice listed planned demonstrations near Israeli Arab towns like like Umm el Fahm and Nazareth and mixed neighborhoods like Jaffa, as well as in the West Bank.

Tensions were already rising on Friday, as the demonstrations were launched. Ha’aretz reported that police in Jerusalem had arrested 11 Palestinians.

“Nakba,” meaning catastrophe, marks May 14, the secular date in 1948 when Israel declared independence.

Palestinians mark the day to commemorate the flight from the nascent state of hundreds of thousands of their forebears as a result of the ensuing war.