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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"On the West Bank more clashes and more casualties"
 real 56k

Yossi Beilin, Former Israeli Justice Minister
"There is an urgent need to put an end to this nightmare"
 real 56k

Hassan Rahman, Chief representative for PLO mission
"Without a total cessation of Jewish settlement activities in Palestinian territories, talks about peace are academic"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
Bloodshed on Israel anniversary
palestinians
Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated against Israel
At least four Palestinians and an Israeli woman have been killed during widespread violence on the emotionally-charged anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to mark the Day of al-Nakba, or catastrophe - the displacement of huge numbers of Palestinians when Israel came into being in 1948.

Arafat recorded TV address
Arafat has not addressed his people like this since September

Nearly 300 Palestinians were injured in Tuesday's clashes with Israeli troops. Some degenerated into gun battles, with live ammunition being fired by both sides.

The bodyguard of Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas, and three demonstrators were killed in separate incidents.

Live fire

The BBC's Orla Guerin says Israeli troops used live fire against unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

An Israeli woman was killed when her car came under Palestinian fire near Maale Mikhmash, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The Brigades of the Martyrs of al-Aqsa - an armed wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement - claimed responsibility for the killing.

Fierce exchanges of fire also erupted after Israeli forces briefly entered the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Arafat warning

In a recorded speech, Mr Arafat demanded the right to independence for his people.

police
Monday saw the highest death toll of Palestinian policemen

He said the Palestinians rejected the "black destiny of exile and occupation," and warned that Israel's policy of "blockades and aggression could never give it security".

Israel has officially rejected a key recommendation of the international Mitchell Commission for a freeze on the construction of new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians insist that such a freeze is vital if the peace process is to move forward.

Mourning

Palestinians marked the "catastrophe" by wearing black, closing their shops and standing still during a three-minute siren.

Nakba rallies
In Lebanon, 10,000 refugees marched in support of an armed struggle against Israel
A peaceful demonstration was held in Jordan's main refugee camp
Lawyers in Amman wore black arm bands and stopped work for an hour
More than 100 people rallied at the Arab League in Cairo demanding a halt in Egyptian-Israeli relations

Holding red, white, black and green Palestinian flags, thousands of people crowded into Gaza City to listen to Mr Arafat's speech played over public address systems.

Children carried huge wooden keys with the names of towns and villages their ancestors left in 1948.

"The road to peace is as clear as the sun, the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Arab territories... and a return of Palestinian refugees," the Palestinian leader said.

He said the hour had come for the international community "to wake up to the injustice" suffered by the Palestinian people and tell Israel to stop its "aggression".

More than 500 people - most of them Palestinians - have been killed since the Palestinian revolt or intifada started in September.

'Missed opportunity'

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Mr Arafat had "missed an opportunity" to call instead for a cessation of violence.

The spokesman, Raanan Gissin, described the Nakba as "the so-called calamity that occurred because (the Arabs) failed to destroy us in 1948".

Mr Arafat's second-in-command, Mahmoud Abbas, is in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell aimed at reviving the stalled peace process.

Palestinian refugees and other Arabs have also been holding rallies throughout the Middle East.

Arab states declared war and invaded Israel upon its founding on May 15, 1948. Thousands were killed on both sides, and some 750,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes during the fighting.

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See also:

15 May 01 | Media reports
Palestinian leader's speech: Excerpts
14 May 01 | Middle East
Palestinian fury over killings
14 May 01 | Middle East
Israel strikes against Palestinians
13 May 01 | Middle East
Palestinians seek US support
11 May 01 | Middle East
Mid East violence escalates
14 May 01 | Middle East
Analysis: The Mitchell report
15 May 01 | Middle East
Flashback: Palestine's catastrophe
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