What is Land Day?
From the lands of Wadi ‘Ara near Haifa, to Madma village by Nablus, to Bethlehem, to Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab, to Sakhnin and Deir Hanna, Palestinians commemorated Land Day today across Palestine with demonstrations, marches and by planting olive and fruit trees, as has been done on March 30th for the past 41 years. Land Day is typically met with violent Israeli repression. This year, Israeli forces injured dozens at the Madma village protest.
On the first Land Day of 1976, Palestinian citizens of Israel led protests and marches in communities of the northern Galilee to the southern Naqab (Negev). The actions were organized in response to Israeli state plans to expropriate over 2,000 hectares of land belonging to Palestinian villages in the Galilee. Israeli police forces fired on the crowds killing six and injuring around a hundred. Since then, Land Day has become one of the most important days on the Palestinian calendar.
Why does Land Day matter?
Land Day began as a direct confrontation of blatant Israeli policies and practices of displacement and colonization. March 30, 1976 constituted an unprecedented show of popular refusal to accept Israeli policies implemented by force. 1976 became one of the most important early moments of resistance led by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, and thus created a bridge across Israeli-imposed regimes of rule that separated Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel are those who were not displaced or were internally displaced in 1948 and lived under Israeli military rule until 1967.
The annual commemoration has played an important role in Palestinian community mobilization across Palestine. By emphasizing the land and its importance, the day of action reinforces principled opposition to ethnic-based rule and dispossession.
This year, Land Day comes after the Israeli state began in January 2017 to fulfill its promise to evict the Palestinian residents of Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab. The government intends to establish a Jewish-only settlement on the land of the Palestinian village. Additionally, and emboldened by a Trump administration, Israeli legislators proposed settlement expansion and land annexation in the West Bank. Palestinians continue to organize and resist these new developments on decades-old practices.
Grassroots activism and Palestinian rootedness is much of what Land Day has come to represent.
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