On Independence Day, thousands of Arab-Israelis march for Palestinians’ right of return

(JTA) — Several thousand Arab-Israelis at a protest march in the Galilee on Israel’s Independence Day commemorated Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948.

Near Tiberias, the participants in Thursday’s March of Return, as organizers called it, carried Palestinian Authority flags and chanted slogans on the need to fight court-ordered demolitions of homes of perpetrators of terrorist acts, according to the news site Ynet.

Israelis celebrate their country’s independence on the the Hebrew date of Israel’s declaration of independence, the fifth of Iyar. The holiday was celebrated this year a day earlier out of consideration for Jews who observe the Sabbath.
In 1948, the year that Israel was established, Iyar 5 fell on May 15. Palestinians commemorate May 15 as a day of mourning, which they call Nakba Day. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe.

Israel’s victory in its War for Independence resulted in the departure of approximately 700,000 Palestinians from present-day Israel.

Officially, the Palestinian Authority is conditioning a final peace agreement with Israel on the return to its territory of any refugees still alive and at least 3 million of their descendants, which the Palestinians say have a right to settle in Israel as well. Unofficially, negotiators say Ramallah will agree to compromise on what it calls the right of return.

“The march is the biggest event to commemorate the Palestinian Nakba and to call for the implementation of the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees and the internally displaced,” organizers of the event from the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced wrote in invitations to the march.

Zochrot, a Tel Aviv-based group devoted to raising awareness to the Nakba among Jews, arranged for transportation from Tel Aviv to the march.

Organizers did not say why April 23 was selected over May 15.

Fifth earthquake in a week strikes Israel

A minor earthquake struck northern Israel, the fifth in a week.

Tuesday morning’s temblor, which measured 3.3 on the Richter scale and was centered just northwest of the Sea of Galilee, was felt from Tiberias up to the Golan Heights.

It came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered earthquake drills in schools on the same day that two earthquakes struck.

All five of the quakes have been centered near the Sea of Galilee, which is located on the Great Syria-African Rift, which has been the center of several earthquakes, large and small.

Netanyahu on Monday also said instructions on earthquake preparedness should be updated and publicized for all citizens. His instructions followed a discussion Monday with government ministers on national preparedness in the event of a major earthquake.

It is unclear what the string of temblors means for future earthquakes.

Hundreds of people died and were injured in a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in 1927 that centered on the Dead Sea.

Minor earthquake strikes northern Israel

A 3.8 magnitude earthquake shook northern Israel.

The epicenter of the temblor, which struck late Sunday night, was in Tiberias and the Hula Valley region.

The quake was felt in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and further south, according to reports. No injuries or damage were reported.

It was the third earthquake to strike Israel since April. 

Parts of Israel, including the Hula Valley, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, the Arava Desert and the Red Sea, lie on the north-to-south Syrian-African fault line.