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Thursday, 30 April, 1998, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
The people with nothing to celebrate
har homa march
Israeli right-wingers march to the disputed Har Homa
As Jewish Israelis celebrate 50 years since the creation of Israel, for the Palestinians, the anniversary is a day of mourning.

They call Israel's creation 'al naqba' - the catastrophe - and blame the Jewish state for usurping their land.

Most Palestinians have also been barred from the festivities although there are few who wish to celebrate.


Palestinians playing dominoes
These Palestinians cannot go to work in Israel today
The Gaza Strip and the West Bank have both been sealed off, and the people who live there have been told they are not allowed to travel into Israel until the celebrations are over.

But although more than 30,000 soldiers and police have been deployed to try to ensure the celebrations pass off peacefully, tension has been mounting in Har Homa, the disputed settlement in East Jerusalem.

Land - still the dividing issue

About 2,000 right-wing, Israeli activists converged on the site to lay a symbolic cornerstone for the Har Homa development.

A counter-demonstration was being held at the site by another Israeli group that blames the settlers in Har Homa for the deadlock in the peace talks.


spraying graffiti
Demonstrators sprayed graffiti at dawn
Some daubed slogans in red letters along the perimeter fence, reading 'Hill of Blood' and 'Har Homa equals war'.

The Palestinians claim that Har Homa has always been their land but the Jewish settlers insist that the land belongs to them

The BBC Jerusalem Correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, says a half-century on, land is still the main issue and Palestinians still dream of achieving what Israel did 50 years ago - their own state.

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