Two Palestinian teens were killed Thursday when Israeli soldiers opened fire on protesters near Ramallah marking Nakba Day, commemorating the displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 war that followed Israel's creation.
Doctors at the emergency ward at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah said Muhammad Abu Daher, 15, and Nadim Nowarra, 17, where shot in the upper part of the body and killed instantly. The two, from Ramallah area villages, were among a group of Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers at Ofer military prison bordering Ramallah.
The Israeli army said rubber bullets were fired to help disperse a violent riot by about 150 Palestinians. Doctors at the hospital said that the two teens and a third, who underwent surgery and was later reported in stable condition, were struck by live ammunition.
The Palestinian Authority criticized the Israeli army for killing the teens and declared Friday a day of mourning, calling on people to take part in the funerals.
in 1948, or catastrophe, when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes during the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel.
The protest near Ramallah, and other demonstrations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza were among the activities Palestinians conducted Thursday for the 66th Nakba, "catastrophe" in Arabic, anniversary.
Sirens sounded in the West Bank and Gaza at midday for 66 seconds as people stood in silence in remembrance of the estimated 700,000, who fled their homes and became refugees.
People marched through Ramallah carrying wooden keys symbolizing the keys for the homes left in 1948 and wearing black T-shirts with "1948" printed on them. A military band also marched through the streets to a platform set up in the city center.
"Sixty-six years after the Nakba, the crime of the century, the right of return for the refugees remains a sacred one that will never go away," said Wasel Abu Yousef, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"There will be no peace, security or stability if the rights of our people are not restored," he said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the government of Israel is still refusing to accept a two-state solution.
"It is leaving open only two options: a bi-national state or an apartheid regime," he said.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said in a report that the Palestinian population multiplied more than eightfold from 1948 through 2013, rising from 1.4 million to 11.8 million, half of them living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel.
Touring the site of a future sports complex to be built in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Palestinians for equating their Nakba with the creation of Israel.
“Not far from us, the Palestinian Authority is marking what they call Nakba Day. They stand in silence to commemorate the catastrophe of Israel’s foundation, the state of the Jewish people," he said. "We will provide another answer to the Nakba. We will pass the nation law, which makes clear to the entire world that Israel is the Jewish nation’s state.”
Abukhater is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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