NEW YORK (AP) — Palestinians call it the "nakba" — the catastrophe.
As Israel marked the 60th anniversary of its independence Friday, Americans of Palestinian descent rallied near the United Nations to mark six decades of displacement from the sliver of land uneasily shared by Jews and Arabs.
"Our country died 60 years ago," said Salah Zalatimo, 28, who blames the current Israeli-Palestinian faceoff on "minority extremists on both sides."
During the 1948-49 war over the creation of the Jewish state, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled or were driven from their homes — estimates range from 650,000 to 1 million. Palestinian demands to return with their descendants — at least 4 million people, by U.N. estimate — represents one of the thorniest issues in the Middle East.
Zalatimo joined about 1,000 people who rallied at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across from U.N. headquarters, to call on the world body to help the Palestinians return to their homeland.