On March 30th – the day on which Palestinians officially commemorate Land Day – various events were held both in 1967 occupied Palestine and across the Green Line by Palestinian communities within today’s State of Israel.
In the West Bank village of Wadi Fukin near Bethlehem, several hundred activists attempted an olive tree planting event on lands that are threatened due to settlement expansion. The centre of the Palestinian village is surrounded by settlements which are rapidly colonising swathes of the village’s agricultural lands.
The event was organised by BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in coordination with local community-based organisations.
As the tree planting began a small number of young activists reached lands at the top of the hill which are currently being expropriated by the settlement of Sur Hadassah. These upper areas include the lands of Wadi Fukin and the neighbouring village of Ras Abu Ammar which is past the Green Line and was forcibly depopulated during the Nakba.
Palestinian flags were briefly raised on the settlement’s construction machinery before Israeli forces arrived en-masse and rained tear gas down on to activists across the hill side. Only a few trees were planted before activists were forced to flee from clouds of toxic fumes.
The history of Land Day and the stories of all those people collectively involved in commemorating the day 39 years later, from Nakba survivors to the youngest members of the refugee community, describe something of the Palestinian struggle against the ongoing Nakba – the forced displacement of Palestinians and colonisation of Palestinian land that began en-masse in the late 1940’s and continues today.
Images by MEMO Photographer Rich Wiles.