JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel says it's not overly concerned about the recent rash of Facebook pages calling for organized protests on behalf of self-described Palestinian refugees.
This month, several Facebook pages were launched to organize mass demonstrations by millions of Palestinian "refugees" on May 15, the day the Palestinian National Authority marks the 63rd anniversary of the "Nakba" or "catastrophe," the term they use for the rebirth of the modern State of Israel.
"We're not worried about anything taking place on Facebook, as long as these protests take place inside the Palestinian territories," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told CBN News.
"What we are concerned about is extremist elements fomenting clashes with security forces," he said. "Violence serves no one's interest."
The Third Palestinian Intifada site -- launched on Facebook earlier this month and removed Tuesday morning -- has a number of sister pages, including a clone of the page that was removed.
The Facebook page administrators organizing the "nonviolent" marches have posted detailed plans on several sites, including the 2011 March of Return, the Palestinian Refugees Revolution, and the Advance of Millions.
Based on the so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, the Facebook page administrators are calling on millions to "realize the right of return to Palestine [sic] in deed as well as word," the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Tuesday.
The sites call on all Palestinian "refugees" in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank -- Judea and Samaria -- to "penetrate the borders of Palestine and return to [their] land."
"The Right of return is a legal, political, human, moral and religious right that is irrevocable and unlimited in time, and all must work toward realizing it. We call for the realization of this right through the mass return of millions of Palestinians to historical Palestine, such that every refugee and displace person will return to his land and to the home from which he was expelled," one site states.
For more than 60 years, the descendants of the estimated 585,000 Arabs who left their homes at the start of Israel's War of Independence, have been isolated in refugee camps in their host countries and admonished to teach the next generations that they have the right to return and reclaim the homes they left.
To read more of the Facebook Page proclamations on MEMRI's website, click here.
A look back helps put the "Palestinian right of return" in perspective.
From the initial announcement on November 29, 1947, the Arab population rejected the U.N. partition plan. They fought it, promising to soak "the soil of our beloved country with the last drop of our blood," Jamal Husseini, spokesman for the Arab Higher Committee told the U.N. before the partition vote, promising that the Arabs "would fight for every inch of their country."
But despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the Arabs, both inside and outside the country, the Jewish forces -- the Haganah, the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces -- fought on. On May 14, 1948, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the modern State of Israel, as the British Mandate came to an end.
The following day, five Arab countries -- Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Transjordan -- attacked the fledgling state.
"This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre that will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades," declared then secretary-general of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha.
Sometimes at the behest of their own leaders, an estimated 585,000 Arabs left their homes with the promise they could return in a matter of days or weeks. That never happened. Despite the odds and heavy losses, the Jews held on to their nascent state.
In early 1949, Israel signed armistice agreements with four of the five Arab countries that attacked them. Iraq choose instead to withdraw its forces rather than sign a pact with Israel.
Most of the Arabs who fled never returned, though many experts say some of their Jewish neighbors begged them to stay and build the country together. Instead of being absorbed in the host countries, they were isolated in "refugee camps." Many say they have in essence become pawns in the fight against Israel.
It is these refugees and their many descendants -- an estimated five million in total -- that the Palestinian Authority, with the support of Arab League member nations, demands be allowed the right of return not necessarily to a future Palestinian state, but within the borders of what they hope will be a truncated Jewish state within the 1949 armistice lines.