Creating new perspectives since 2009

Palestine Land Day 2024 will have a very different feel about it

March 18, 2024 at 12:30 pm

People walk past a sign depicting a map of historic Palestine showing a hand extending out of the Gaza Strip holding a key, with a caption in Arabic reading “distance to Jerusalem 108km”, displayed outside a mosque in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 08 February, 2024 [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]

We are approaching the 48th commemoration of Palestine Land Day, and there is no doubt that 30 March will have very different feel about it this year, with the Palestinians in Gaza being killed and starved in defence of their land against the brutal Zionist military offensive over almost six months, during which the Gaza Strip has been systematically destroyed. Civilian infrastructure has been targeted by Israel, including homes, hospitals, schools, places of worship and governmental and non-government institutions. UNRWA buildings have also been targeted and destroyed. In every practical sense of the word, Gaza is uninhabitable.

Nevertheless, the Palestinians in Gaza still refuse to leave; they remain committed to their land, the land of their fathers and grandfathers, and their fathers and grandfathers.

They are defying the claims of early Zionist leaders such as David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir that the old will die and the young will forget about the 1948 Nakba. The old did indeed die, but it was after they handed over their keys and the torch of freedom to the young to carry after they were gone. Now the young are themselves old, but they have still not forgotten, and nor have their children. They are the ones being tortured, killed and maimed, but they still shake the ground under the feet of the Zionists in defence of their land and honour.

The late but ever-present Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish articulated Land Day when he said, “In the month of March, in the year of the Intifada, the land told us its violent secrets.” If he had lived today, I have no doubt that he would say, “In the month of March, in the time of Al-Aqsa Flood, the land told us all of its violent secrets.”

What does Land Day commemorate? On 30 March 1976, the Israeli occupation forces seized thousands of acres of private and communal land within the areas in 1948-occupied Palestine which still had a Palestinian majority population. A strike was organised and marches took place from the Galilee to the Negev. Confrontations broke out resulting in the death of ten Palestinians, while hundreds were injured or arrested after coming under attack by Israeli security forces.

READ: Amnesty calls on Biden to honour his Irish roots and stop transferring weapons to Israel

Land Day is thus regarded as a crucial event in the Palestine-Israel land issue and in the relationship between the occupation state and its Palestinian citizens. It was the first time that “Arab Israelis” in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1948 organised widespread protests in response to the government’s policies, and acted in a collective Palestinian national capacity.

All Palestinians within the occupied Palestinian territories and in the global diaspora commemorate 30 March as Land Day. There is no doubt that the day is a symbol and a great challenge breaking the boundaries imposed by catastrophes and defeats. It is a reminder of the Palestinian struggle for 76 years. Nothing is more precious than the land that can express Palestinian patriotism and embody the struggle to restore harmony and national unity among all Palestinian factions. It also expresses the hopes and pains of a nation against whom the global powers and the hyenas of this world of all backgrounds try to eliminate the Palestinians.

Successive Israeli governments have issued since 1948 several laws in attempts to legitimise its control over the occupied Palestinian territories, including the Absentee Law and the Land Law. These have allowed the apartheid state to control more than one million dunums of the most fertile Palestinian land. A number of laws limit Arab demographic continuity between the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 and those occupied in 1967. In order to cement the declared Jewishness of the state in which 20 per cent of the citizens are non-Jews, systematic Judaisation policies have been imposed on historical Arab sites, as well as mosques and churches. The Judaisation process has been concentrated in the Galilee and Negev regions in occupied Palestine, as well as in occupied Jerusalem.

The racist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to subject the Israeli judiciary to political control, which concerns the Palestinians more than it concerns the Zionists occupying Palestinian land. Netanyahu and his extreme far-right ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich want to control the political decision-making process without judicial oversight, dictated by the agenda of the extremist, racist religious parties, including decisions which perpetuate the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court gives tacit support to the occupation every time that it witnesses the violation of Palestinians’ rights but does nothing against the perpetrators.

On Land Day 2024, Palestine is certainly the focus of world attention, with support for the Palestinians in Gaza in particular at the centre of it all. Millions of people are standing up for Palestinian rights, justice and freedom in a combined struggle against the religious fascism called Zionism, the ideology which underpins the occupation state. The struggle against racist Zionism is the epitome of the struggle against racism around the entire world.

OPINION: Palestine taking centre stage in local elections is a warning to Israel and its friends

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.