Palestinian great dance of return: Protesters take to music and dance even as Israeli forces continue to fire

For war-torn Palestinians, the date 15 May is of great significance. It was the day Zionist armed forces occupied land in 1948 to make way for the new State of Israel. It's a date that's come to be known as Nabka. This year marked the 70th anniversary of the incident, and as reported by Al-Jazeera, the protests this year acquired an extra edge after the United States decided to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Nabka protests turned violent in May this year, and at least 60 demonstrators were killed by the Israeli army in Gaza near the fence with Israel. Although organisers said their protests would be peaceful in nature, 19 people were killed and hundreds were injured after Israeli snipers fired live ammunition, sparking accusations of use of disproportionate force.

It didn't, however, result in any let-up in the protests by the Palestinians. This time, their demonstrations were accompanied by music and dance, as well. A video uploaded on social media shows the fearlessness of the protesters, many of whom are dancing the Dabke, a Palestinian folk dance that's typically performed at festive occasions.

As is evident from the video, the group of youngsters clad in the Kaffiyeh scarf — popularised by the late Palestine leader Yasser Arafat — continue to shake a leg even as black plumes of smoke billow around them. They are joined by an elderly man, clearly unable to resist the catchy beats of the music.

What are they calling for?

With the March of Return, Palestinian refugees are demanding to be allowed to go back to the land they fled, or were expelled from, during the 1948 war around Israel's creation.

The United Nations supports this cause in a resolution but has never implemented it, even as around five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in the occupied West Bank, Gaza strip and countries surrounding Israel.

It is an important issue for Palestinians, many of whom still have the keys to the homes their families were forced to leave. Israel says demanding they be allowed to return amounts to calling for the country to cease to exist.

With inputs from AFP

Updated Date: Jul 03, 2018 16:03 PM

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