RAMALLAH, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinians marked on Wednesday the 71st anniversary of the Nakba Day, or "Day of the Catastrophe," the day after Israel declared its independence in 1948, calling for the right of return for the Palestinian refugees and the end of Israel's occupation.
However, the recent U.S. and Israeli measures against the Palestinian cause, have overshadowed the commemoration activities as Palestinians expressed fear over the future of the refugees.
Palestinians commemorate the Nakba Day every year, in memory of the forcible transfer of nearly two thirds of the Palestinian people and ethnic cleansing of at least 418 villages as a result of the 1948 war.
Khairy Abu Nasser, 55, was marching while holding the key of his grandparents' house in their hometown near Haifa.
The key means "the protection of our right and our home, which was demolished. But we know exactly where it is," he told Xinhua.
Although he has never been able to visit his family's original village, his parents, who were forced out of the village as children, managed to visit their place of birth years before.
"My message to the world is that we are the rightful people, and this is a right that belongs to us after our fathers and grandparents. I urge the entire world to stand with us, because we want to return to our lands," Nasser said.
Ahmad Hannoun, director general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Refugees Affairs department, told Xinhua that the number of Palestinian refugees is well over 6 million.
"The situation of refuges is becoming increasingly more difficult and more complicated, as there is a vicious attack by the U.S. government and the Israeli government to liquidate the issue of Palestinian refugees and the entire Palestinian cause," Hannoun warned.
"Today, Palestinian refugees are living in the same situation they lived on the eve of the 1948 war. They are under an existential threat," he added.
In March, the United States lowered its diplomatic representation to Palestine by closing its consulate in Jerusalem and merging it with its embassy in the city. Washington relocated its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May of 2018.
The United States also cut 844 million U.S. dollars in aid to the Palestinians last year, including 359 million dollars allocated to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The move followed a series of steps taken by U.S. President Donald Trump, including the closure of the PLO office in Washington, the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. embassy to the holy city.
As a result, the Palestinian Authority declared its boycott against the U.S. government, saying it had lost its qualification to broker the Middle East peace process.
The Palestinians rejected the U.S. proposal for Middle East peace better known as the Deal of the Century, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the U.S. ideas "fall short of their aspirations for just and lasting peace."
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye told reporters that any political solution proposed by the U.S. government will be rejected if it undermines the rights of the Palestinians to end the occupation and establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
According to the latest report issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the number of Palestinians has increased by nine times since 1948, of whom 6.02 million are refugees registered by the UNRWA.
The PCBS report said 28.4 percent of the refugees live in 58 camps that are located in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.