Galilee residents are up in arms over plans by Arabs to conduct a Nakba Day march at a memorial site for the 47 Israelis of the Yehi’am Convoy killed in a bloody battle in the western Galilee. The “National Committee for the Protection of the Rights of the Evicted” – an Arab group that demands that Israel allow the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 to return to their parental homes – has been given a permit to conduct the march.
The Yehi’am convoy, a Haganah convoy sent from Haifa during the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine to reinforce and re-supply kibbutz Yehi’am which had been holding out against constant Arab attacks. On March 27, 1948, the convoy was attacked and destroyed by an Arab ambush. All members of the convoy were killed.
According to the organizers, the event at the site of the Yehi’am memorial is expected to attract some 25,000 people, most of them Israeli Arabs. The organizers say that the memorial is on the site of Arab villages abandoned in 1948, when regional Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere exhorted Arabs to leave their homes in order to enable the Arab armies to kill as many Jews as possible with no interference.
Yoram Yisraeli, head of the Asher Regional Council, said he was “bitterly opposed” to the march, which will take place on Israel Independence Day. “I cannot allow a march like this to take place at a site like this, on Independence Day no less. The organizers are going to have to choose another site to celebrate their ‘Nakba.’” Representatives of the families of the fallen soldiers said that they visited the site especially on Independence Day. “It is impossible that such an event will take place on that day. We demand that the site for this event be changed,” they said in a statement.
‘Nakba,’ the Arabic word for “disaster,” has been used in recent years by Arabs to describe the establishment of Israel in 1948.