Palestine, West Bank 01 Apr 2015 08:34
Palestinians from across the West Bank and Israel gathered in confiscated Palestinian villages, on both side of the 1967 Greenline, to commemorate Land Day. Land Day is seen as a day of resistance action in defense of Palestinian land. Annual Land Day events are held by Palestinian communities within the State of Israel, in the occupied territories, and in the Palestinian diaspora.
Land Day events in 2015 included a 'return march' by the community-in-exile of Lifta, many of whom today remain only a kilometer or two from their original homes. Today there remains a small but very active community-in-exile of Lifta's refugees in East Jerusalem, and it was this group, under the banner of their community grassroots organisation 'Sons of Lifta' who spent Land Day inside their home village. Although many of the village's houses remain intact and the refugees live only a ten minute journey away, they are denied their rights to return to live in the vilage by the State of Israel.
Land day first started on March 30,1976, when mass demonstrations broke out among Palestinian communities in the State of Israel in protest at an Israeli state plan to confiscate 20,000 dunums (2,000 hectares) of land around the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin and Arraba in the Galilee. This was one of the first examples of mass coordinated action being carried out by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Protests were held from the Galilee in the north all the way to the Negev (known as the 'Naqab' to Palestinians) in the south. Over the course of the day 6 Palestinians were shot dead and more than 100 were injured. Ever since these events, Palestinians have commemorated March 30th as 'Land Day', or 'Yom al-Ard' in Arabic.
In Another Land Day event, activists in the village of Wadi Fukin in the West Bank attempted to plant 350 olive tree saplings on land that is threatened with expropriation by the expansion of the Israeli settlement of Sur Hadassah. All Israeli settlements within the 1967 occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are illegal under international law. Before more than a handful of trees could be planted in Wadi Fukin, Israeli soldiers rained clouds or tear gas on to the activists bringing the Land Day event to an abrupt halt. For Palestinians, Land Day is an important annual event which brings together many thousands of Palestinians across historic Palestine in the defence of Palestinian land.