Anti-colonisation actions began on Friday to mark Land Day in Palestine. Land Day – or ‘Yom al-Ard’ in Arabic – commemorates the killing of 6 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 100 by Israeli forces during demonstrations that broke out amongst Palestinian citizens of Israel on March 30th 1976 in response to Israeli plans to colonise 20,000 dunums (2,000 hectares) of land near the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin and Arraba in the Galilee.
In one of the first Land Day events this year, refugees from the village of Lifta made the 10 minute journey from their homes-in-exile in East Jerusalem across the Green Line to the village from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948. Lifta was amongst the Palestinian villages that were depopulated by Zionist militias before the declaration of the State of Israel.
In 1948, most of Lifta’s refugees fled only a kilometre of two in to what later became East Jerusalem after the demarcation of the Green Line during the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Although many later fled internationally, a core group of Lifta’s refugees remain in East Jerusalem today, living within a ten minute drive of their village which they are able to visit although denied their rights to return to live on their lands.
Lifta’s refugees in East Jerusalem remain deeply attached to their village today, even whilst continuing their life in exile and regularly visit their lands both collectively and individually. Land Day is one of several annual days on which the displaced community organise collective actions in Lifta. This years action included a tour of the village in which Nakba survivors described village life and remembered the people who lived in every house. Later, time was spent in the cemetery cleaning the graves of the refugees’ ancestors before the day ended with Friday prayers being held alongside Lifta’s historic water spring.
Images by MEMO Photographer Rich Wiles