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10,000 Palestinians join in Nakba Day protests

By Clyde Hughes
Palestinian demonstrators gather east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday during a protest marking 71th anniversary of Nakba -- also known as Day of the Catastrophe in 1948. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/ UPI | License Photo

May 15 (UPI) -- The Palestinian Health Ministry reported the protest numbers as Palestinians mark the creation of Israel and claim of thousands of displaced Arabs during the 1948 war. Nakba is the Palestinian word for "catastrophe."

The protest was restrained from last year, when Nakba Day merged with a protest against the United States decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, leading to 61 deaths. Hamas placed members in orange vests between protesters and the security fence in hopes of restraining violence, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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"We don't want to give the Israeli military forces any excuse to hurt our young people, and we don't want to increase tensions in the border region," Palestinian official Talal Abu Zarifa told Haaretz.

The Israeli defense deployed forces in "key trouble spots" along the Gaza border Wednesday in anticipation of possible riots.

The Palestinians and Israelis are in the middle of a fragile cease-fire deal agreed to in early May after both sides were involved some of the most intense fighting in the past five years. As part of the agreement, Israel opened Gaza crossings and expanded the region's fishing zone.

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