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Palestinians mark 62 years of displacement

Palestinians mark 62 years of displacement
Palestinians demonstrate in front of United Nations Office building marking the 62nd anniversary of the "Nakba", Arabic for catastrophe, in Gaza City on May 15, 2010. Palestinians marked the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation, demanding the right of return of hundreds of thousands driven from their homes in Israel. UPI/Ismael Mohamad | License Photo

BETHLEHEM, Israel, May 15 (UPI) -- Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and refugee camps paused Saturday to commemorate their forced displacement by Jewish militia in 1948.

Sirens wailed in Bethlehem and other cities on the 62nd anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba -- or "day of catastrophe" -- marking the mass forced displacement of Palestinians when Israel declared statehood.

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The commemoration also included the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War.

"We will not surrender to the motto 'after the elderly die, the young will forget.' We will teach our sons and grandsons about the right to return," spokesman Fahmi Kan'an told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an.

A U.N. refugee agency estimates there are 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East -- many descendants of the more than 800,000 forcibly removed from their homes in 1948. The estimated 154,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel have grown to 1.25 million, Ma'an reported.

Friday evening in the Galilee village of Kanna, Sheik Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, called on Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to settle their differences and unite, Israel's Ynetnews.com Web site reported.

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