Nakba riots (illustration)
Nakba riots (illustration)Flash90

Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel held a protest march calling to flood the Jewish state with roughly five million descendants of Palestinian Arabs who left in the 1948 War of Independence on Thursday - the same day Israel celebrated its independence.

The Arab Israelis were seen carrying Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist flags with others holding up signs demanding the right to return for "refugees" at the rally in the Negev desert.

Organizers said it was the first time such a demonstration has been held in the Negev.

Marchers carried the slogan: "On the anniversary of your independence, remember our nakba."

Nakba, catastrophe in Arabic, is the term given by Arabs to the establishment of the modern Jewish state, and it expresses their enmity to the very existence of Israel.

The talk of the nakba, which is commemorated by Arab Israelis on May 15, is ironic as the protesters are themselves citizens of the Jewish state and enjoy full benefits and perks from the country whose foundation they view as a "catastrophe."

As noted by the slogan, the protest has particularly significance given its timing on Israeli Independence Day, as Israelis nationwide celebrate 68 years since the founding of the state. 

AFP contributed to this report.