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Palestinians mark the "catastrophe" of Israel's birth

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Palestinians mark the "catastrophe" of Israel's birth

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Demanding their right to return to their homeland, Palestinians have marked what they call al-Nakba, or “The Catastrophe.”

At a rally in Bethlehem, a giant key was driven through the streets to symbolise Palestinians’ attachment to the properties they fled or were driven out of in the wake of Israel’s birth.

Uprooted in 1948, Nayef El-Khateeb has lived in a refugee camp near Sidon in Lebanon ever since. Now 88, he is still praying to go home before he dies.

The old man has documents he says show property taxes he paid to the former British rulers of Palestine. He claims he also has papers showing he used to sell fresh produce from his land’s harvest.

“Now we are here and we can’t afford to buy one kilo of tomatoes,” he said.

A new start for those who created the state of Israel resulted in the forced exile of some 700,000 Palestinians. The fate of those refugees and their descendants – now nearly 4 and a half million people – is one of the most difficult questions in a relaunched peace process that is showing no tangible results.