The United States’ diplomatic missions in Israel have called on US citizens to exercise caution due to demonstrations and violence associated with Nakba Day.
Nakba Day is observed on May 15, the Gregorian anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day in 1948. The Palestinians, and Arabs throughout the Middle East, observe the Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” with marches and protests.
The warnings issued on Wednesday by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and the US Consulate in Jerusalem call on US citizens to be cautious on May 15, and the days preceding that date, It also warns of traffic congestion and road closures in Jerusalem for the Muslim holiday of the Isra and Miraj on May 16 and for Jerusalem Day on May 17.
According to the warning, on Nakba Day there “may be a significantly higher level of Israeli National Police patrolling around Jerusalem, especially following afternoon prayers. In the past, demonstrations or clashes have occurred in multiple areas such as the Qalandiya Checkpoint, Damascus Gate, Bethlehem, and Ramallah City Center, as well as other checkpoints and refugee camps.”
The warning reminds US citizens in Israel to “be aware of your surroundings at all times, monitor the media, and avoid demonstrations and other crowds as events can turn violent without warning. We further advise you to follow police instructions and avoid areas of heavy police presence.”
During last year’s Nakba Day demonstrations near Ramallah which turned violent, two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli troops. An investigation later found that an Israeli Border Police officer used live fire instead of rubber bullets, and the officer was arrested on November 12 later charged with manslaughter.