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Palestinians rally in Gaza to mark 49 years of occupation

June 4, 2016 3:37 P.M. (Updated: June 5, 2016 4:02 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinians in the Gaza Strip commemorated on Saturday the anniversary of the 1967 Israeli invasion and occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan Heights that began on June 5, a day that Palestinians refer to as the Naksa, meaning setback.

Demonstrators at the Naksa Day rally waved Palestinian flags as they marched from the Unknown Soldier Square in central Gaza City to the UNRWA headquarters, condemning Israel for its continued crimes against Palestinians.

Hamas official Ismail Radwan called for achieving national reconciliation in accordance with the Cairo agreement, referring to the 2012 accords between Fatah, Hamas, and the Palestinian National Council to form an interim government in preparation for national elections, which haven't been held since 2006.

Radwan warned Palestinian factions against pinning their hopes on international negotiation efforts that promise “illusions” that “will not achieve anything,” in an allusion to the French initiative to hold a multilateral peace conference, preliminary talks for which kicked off in Paris on Friday.

Hamas, along with other Palestinian factions, released a joint statement on Friday slamming the PLO-supported initiative as a “dangerous violation against agreed-upon national rights, especially the right of return.”

Radwan reiterated at the rally that the right of return was a “sacred right that is not negotiable.”

He added that Israeli leaders must be presented to the International Criminal Court and prosecuted for the war crimes they committed.

Talal Abu Tharifeh, Palestinian lawmaker and member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) -- a group that endorsed Hamas’ joint statement -- called upon the Palestinian leadership to drop the French initiative, slamming the international effort as a “waste of time.”

Abu Tharifeh stressed that Palestinians were determined to continue resisting until all Palestinian lands occupied by Israel were returned.

The 1967 war resulted in the flight of around 300,000 Palestinians from their homes, as well as thousands of Syrians from the Golan Heights.

Palestinians believe the war completed the Israeli occupation of historic Palestine that began with the Nakba, or "catastrophe" of 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in what became Israel.
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