Occasion commemorates 1976 killing of Palestinians while demonstrating against land seizures by Israel
JERUSALEM (AA) — Palestinians on Thursday marked “Land Day”, which commemorates the murder of six Palestinians by Israeli forces while demonstrating against the seizure of their land in 1976.
For the last 41 years, Palestinians have commemorated the deadly incident by holding marches in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Arab villages throughout Israel.
On March 30, 1976, thousands of Palestinians in the northern Galilee region demonstrated against the seizure by Israel of large tracts of Arab land, prompting Israeli troops to enter the region in force.
The demonstrations first kicked off in the town of Deir Hanna, which had been the target of severe oppression by the Israeli police.
This was followed by further protests in the town of Arrabeh, during which one Palestinian was killed — and dozens more injured — by Israeli forces.
The Palestinian’s death triggered widespread demonstrations — and violent clashes with Israeli troops — in a number of other Arab communities, in which another six Palestinians were killed.
Samir Hussein, Deir Hanna’s current mayor, told Anadolu Agency that Palestinians continued to face the same oppression and racism by the Israeli authorities.
“We still visit the shrine of the Palestinians killed in 1976 to reaffirm our commitment to the struggle against injustice and racism,” he said.
“And we won’t stop until we win our right to live in dignity,” he added.
On Thursday, Palestinians marked this year’s Land Day by staging a number of demonstrations across the occupied West Bank.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, used the occasion to condemn Israel’s ongoing policy of “Judaizing” Jerusalem and building Jewish-only settlements on occupied Arab land.
“By commemorating Land Day each year, Palestinians remind the world that they still stand against Israel’s policy of land theft,” he said in a statement.
“This day is a symbol of Palestinian dignity and the continued struggle against the occupation,” Erekat added.
Mohamed Barakeh, chairman of the Supreme Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, told Anadolu Agency that this year’s Land Day commemoration came amid “unprecedented Israeli violations of Arab rights”.
According to Palestine’s official statistics agency, Israel has until now appropriated a whopping 85 percent of historical Palestine — some 27,000 square kilometers — while leaving only 15 percent to the Palestinians.
The agency went on to note that, since the beginning of 2017, the Israeli authorities had demolished more than 1,341 Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank and Jerusalem, displacing a total of 1,620 Palestinian residents.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territory” and considers all Jewish settlement-building on the land as illegal.
The Palestinians, for their part, want these areas — along with the Gaza Strip — for a future Palestinian state.