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Israel-Palestine: LAND DAY 2022

Wednesday 30 March 2022, by siawi3

Source: New Zochrot



Today, March 30 we mark Land Day. It marks the 46th anniversary of the 1976 general strike declared by the Palestinians living within sovereign Israel in protest against the practice of land expropriation, particularly the large-scale expropriations initiated in 1975 as part of the stated effort to “Judaize the Galilee”. Israeli security forces including the military and police dispersed the demonstrations by force, killing six Palestinians:
Kheir Yassin (23) was killed in Araba
Raja Abu-Raya (23) was killed in Sakhnin
Khadija Qasem Shawahne (23) was killed in Sakhnin
Kheider Khlaila (27) was also killed in Sakhnin
Mhassan Taha (15) was killed in Kafr Kana
Raffet al-Zahiri (20) of the Nur Shams Refugee Camp was killed in Taibe

The mass demonstrations marked a turning point in the resistance of the Palestinians who survived the Nakba to become nominal citizens of Israel. Palestinian society within sovereign Israel had not only experienced a severe trauma, but was subjected to oppression, living until 1966 under a military government. Whereas it never stopped resisting its ongoing dispossession and the erasure of its heritage, the protests held on March 30, 1976 marked the new “upright” generation’s growing ability to organize, make its voice heard and resist. It is therefore not surprising that Israeli authorities used lethal force to crush this protest.

Resistance did not cease over the past 46 years, nor, unfortunately, did the land expropriations, neither in the territories recognized as the State of Israel in 1948, nor in those occupied in 1967. Land expropriations are a key instrument of the ongoing Nakba, the creeping ethnic cleansing of Palestine from Palestinians – regardless of their formal civic status. The widespread land grabs are designed to establish control on the ground (“Judaize the Galilee and Negev”) and minimize Palestinian presence. They restrict the ability of Palestinian villages and towns to develop, deny access to agricultural land and thus to livelihood, force most Palestinians into quasi-ghettos where overcrowding, poverty and crime are rampant, dispossess individuals of lands cultivated by their families for generations, and are often accompanied by arrests and even deaths in addition to destruction of property.

On March 30, 1948, three villages in the Yafa area, including Sheikh Mwannis, were occupied by Jewish militias, foreshadowing the mass occupations, expulsions and killings of April and May that year.

Four years ago, Gazan organizers declared the Great March of Return, which headed out on that very day, on Land Day. Tens of thousands of Gazan inhabitants, mostly refugees from the territories that became the State of Israel, erected encampments, conducted political activities and marched towards the fence behind which they are imprisoned by the Israeli authorities. Military snipers shot them, killing 16 marchers. This resistance continued for two years their after, despite hundreds of casualties.