What: Palestine Land Day (Yawm Al-Ard)
When: 30 March
On 30 March 1976 thousands of Palestinians from towns and villages in the Galilee region, northern Israel, marched in protest against an Israeli order to confiscate land belonging to indigenous communities in the area. The equivalent of 2,000 hectares was ordered for appropriation.
Israel’s attempt to seize land was viewed as a continuation of the policy to “Judaise” the territory at the expense of Palestinians. The vast majority (750,000) had already been expelled by Israel and the land and property they left behind was seized by the Israeli government through dubious legal means.
To protest against the new measures, the Palestinian population declared a general strike.
What happened next?
Israeli security forces reacted by deploying the army, border police and armoured units to the Palestinian villages. Violent confrontations ensued resulting in six deaths and injuries to over one hundred people.
Historians documenting the incident reported that Israeli forces broke into Palestinian villages and coordinated operations against protestors in a manner usually seen in combat, despite the fact that the protestors were citizens of Israel expressing their outrage against state oppression.
The event has been marked annually since as Yawm Al-Ard or Land Day. Palestinians hold vigils and plant trees in solidarity with those who lost their lives resisting Israeli aggression.
The Land Day protest is regarded as a major turning point as it was the first time that Palestinians within Israel, who had lived under martial law since Israel’s founding, had mobilised to resist ongoing land theft.
Commemorative events are held by Palestinians across the world as further reaffirmation of the unity between Palestinians who remained and those who were expelled by Israel. The vigils also draw attention to the continuation of the policy of settler-colonialism and “Judaisation” that has been aggressively pursued by subsequent Israeli governments since the founding of the country to this day.
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