Bethlehem (Agenzia Fides) - Around 160 people attending Pax Christi's International Assembly were present, along with Pax Christi member organisations and partners on Thursday evening to mark the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, when Israel was established in the historic land of Palestine and Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in 1948. Many local people joined in as the vigil got underway in Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity, also attended by representatives and members of humanitarian and educational Palestinian organizations. During the vigil the names of Palestinian villages that no longer exist after the mass escape were remembered.
More than 700.000 Palestinians were removed from their villages and towns during the Nakba, while at least 530 villages and towns were depopulated and destroyed. There were more than 700 thousand Palestinians who left towns and villages during the Nakba, the Arabic expression that means "catastrophe". The dispute over the fate of those Palestinians and their descendants, remains at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Secretary General of Pax Christi International, Jose Henriquez, was unable to attend the vigil in Bethlehem because the Israeli authorities did not allow him to enter Israel from the border with Jordan. Pax Christi International issued a statement in which it expressed "deep regret" at the decision made by the Israeli authorities, expressing full support to its Secretary-General. "He is a man of integrity", said the statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, "and we cannot imagine any reason capable of justifying the refusal of his entrance" (GV) (Agenzia Fides 16/05/2015)