Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestine in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip commemorated Land Day on Thursday with marches, protests, and speeches.
Thursday was the 47th anniversary of Land Day, which marks when thousands of Palestinians in Israel’s northern Galilee rose up in 1976 to protest Israeli land theft and were confronted by Israeli forces, who killed six protest.
The day is also seen as significant because it is considered to be the first time that Palestinian citizens of Israel organized together against Israeli policies.
Protests in Israel began on Thursday in the city of Sakhnin in the north of Palestine.
Demonstrators marched across the town carrying the Palestinian flag, and reached the cemetery where the six Palestinians were buried almost five decades ago.
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Speaking to the Palestinian outlet Arabs48, one of the organizers of the protest said: “The main issue and struggle we had with the Zionist movement was the issue of the land, and it will be the issue of the land, and that is it, and we are still suffering from racist policies i. everything to do with land and housing.”
About 17.5 percent of the country’s population are Palestinian citizens of Israel and descendants of Palestinians who were not expelled by Zionist militias during the creation of Israel in 1948.
They hold Israeli citizenship and are often called Arab-Israeli, but most identify as Palestinian.
In Gaza, Palestinians marched along the border between the besieged enclave and Israel.
Israeli forces responded by firing tear gas at the protesters.
In 2018, Palestinians in Gaza started the March Back protest movement on Land Day, when thousands of people staged weekly demonstrations on the border demanding their right to return to homes they were expelled from during the 1948 Nakba.
The March of Return protests continued for a year and a half and were met with a brutal response by Israeli forces, killing more than 200 demonstrators.
Recently, Israeli opposition organizations and activists called on the European Union to impose sanctions on a senior Israeli politician who is in charge of allowing illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
They targeted Natalia Averbuch, who heads Israel’s Civil Administration High Planning Council in the West Bank, an authority that approved the construction of 7,287 housing units in settlements in February.
“The settlement causes great harm to the Palestinian population living in its vicinity – beyond plundering the private lands and agricultural lands of the Palestinian communities, each settlement creates new security arrangements for the settlers and new restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement and work. Palestinian,” the letter said.
The illegal settlements approved in 2023 are already higher than those approved in 2022 and 2021, which were 4,427 and 3,645 respectively.
Earlier this month, Israeli MPs approved a controversial piece of legislation that would allow for the restoration of four abandoned Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank after they were dismantled in 2005.
It also allows Israeli settlers to return to areas of the West Bank that were evacuated in 2005 as part of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan.