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10,000 Palestinians hold independence day protest in Israel

May 7, 2014 9:56 A.M. (Updated: May 8, 2014 1:53 P.M.)
LUBYA (AFP) -- Some 10,000 Palestinians rallied in northern Israel on Tuesday to demand the right of return for refugees expelled after the creation of the Israeli state in 1948.

The demonstration took place in the Israeli village of Lavi, which was built on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Lubya.

Lubya was home to 2,726 Palestinians until 1948, when Jewish mobs captured the village during the conflict that led to Israel's creation.

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and read out the names of 530 Palestinian villages that were forcibly displaced 66 years ago, before observing a minute's silence in their memory.

"A demonstration organized by Israeli Arab associations gathered about 10,000 people and two youths were arrested for violence against the police," Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Groups demanding the right of return for Palestinians expelled from their homes in 1948 organized the event under the slogan: "Your 'independence' day is our 'Nakba'," Arabic for catastrophe.

"There will be no peace, no stability and no reconciliation without the refugees' right of return," lawmaker Mohammad Barakei told AFP.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.8 million with their descendants -- fled or were driven from their homes in 1948.

Palestinians mark Nakba day on May 15, but Palestinian citizens of Israel hold demonstrations on Israeli independence day, which fell on Tuesday this year.

The Palestinian population of Israel is made up of around 1.3 million people, some 20 percent of Israel's population.

Most of Lubya's original inhabitants settled in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the suburbs of Damascus.

In Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, police dispersed a demonstration by Jewish extremists, who marched through the streets of the Old City chanting anti-Arab slogans, the police spokeswoman said.

Police arrested two of the demonstrators who tried to force their way past a checkpoint, she added.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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