Special edition  
Palestine Update  127

A dossier on how Land Day unites Palestinian polity

Palestine Updates brings readers selected information on Land Day, its history, its political prospects as a rallying point and date, and potential for uniting Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and liberation from the occupation. We hope this information is not just useful, but also of a nature that binds us closer to the Palestinian aspiration for an end to the occupation.
The right of return is a principle in international law which guarantees peoples right of voluntary return to or re-enter their country of origin or of citizenship.

A massive coalition of major Palestinian factions including National and Islamic Forces will rally in mass protests against the Israeli occupation on March 30 to commemorate the Land Day. This comes just ahead of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. Protests at Israeli checkpoints in the occupied will demonstrate anger over the racist and discriminatory policies of the occupation, as well as express outrage over what has become known as the Deal of the Century.The Land Day is of special significance to the Palestinians because it was the first time since 1948 that Palestinians in Israel organized a collective response to Israeli policies. It is marked not only by Palestinians within historical Palestine, but also by Palestinians all over the world. March 30 has been a day of patriotism and resistance for Palestinians worldwide since 1976. 2018 promises to be a record-breaker.

Political analyst Ibrahim Habib warns: “Israel’s fear of this march will force it to escalate and this mustn’t stop us from going on, even if they use drones to fire teargas bombs at the protesters, as they’ve warned us they will do. We have to make this march succeed, because if it does, it will be a new stage of Palestinian resistance.”

What is fundamental is the consensus that all political factions will work under the aegis of Palestine and the United Nations which, in itself, is a major accomplishment. A plethora of actions are foreseen. Groups in the West Bank plan will plant olive trees on lands that have been taken by the occupation. Others will create murals and sculptures, exhibitions featuring Palestinian heritage products and handicrafts, and digital campaigns on various social networking sites.

Mahmoud Khaldi, a 65-year-old farmer in northern Gaza speaking on his role in “the Great Return March” puts it best: “”I love my land; I can’t forget it,” says…My land is my soul and you can’t leave it behind. Even if they steal it, we will get it back.” He asserts how this is a “new step “to assert our right of return to our land, the land of our fathers and grandparents”.

It is staggeringly clear that Israel will not surrender what it has stolen, and what it continues to steal – not just of land, but of crucial resources, and cultural heritage. Israel seeks to reduce the Palestinians into a non-people. The Palestinians dare them by saying in unequivocal terms: We exist, and will resist until freedom dawns.

Ranjan Solomon

Land Day, on the 30th of March
Land Day, March 30, is an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians of the events of that date in 1976. In response to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land for security and settlement purposes, a general strike and marches were organized in Arab towns from the Galilee to the Negev. In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six unarmed Arab citizens were killed, about one hundred were wounded, and hundreds of others arrested.

Land Day is a pivotal event in the struggle over land and in the relationship of Arab citizens to the Israeli state and body politic. It is significant in that it was the first time since 1948 that Arabs in Israel organized a response to Israeli policies as a Palestinian national collective. An important annual day of commemoration in the Palestinian national political calendar ever since, it is marked not only by Arab citizens of Israel, but also by Palestinians all over the world.

The Arabs of Palestine were a largely agrarian people, 75% of whom made their living off the land before the establishment of the Israeli state. After the Palestinian exodus and the effects of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, land continued to play an important role in the lives of the 156,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained inside what became the state of Israel, serving as the source of communal identity, honor, and purpose. The Israeli government adopted in 1950 the Law of Return to facilitate Jewish immigration to Israel and the absorption of Jewish refugees. Israel’s Absentees’ Property Law of March 1950 transferred the property rights of absentee owners to a government-appointed Custodian of Absentee Property. It was also used to confiscate the lands of Arab citizens of Israel who “are present inside the state, yet classified in law as ‘absent’.”[11] The number of “present-absentees” or internally displaced Palestinians from among the 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel is estimated (in 2001) to be 200,000, or some 20% of the total Palestinian Arab population in Israel. The government of Israel declared its intention to expropriate lands in the Galilee for official use, affecting some 20,000 dunams of land between the Arab villages.

David McDowall identifies the resumption of land seizures in the Galilee and the acceleration of land expropriations in the West Bank in the mid-1970s as the immediate catalyst for both the Land Day demonstration and similar demonstrations that were taking place contemporaneously in the West Bank. He writes: “Nothing served to bring the two Palestinian communities together politically more than the question of land.”

During the Land Day events, a new sense of national pride, together with anger toward the state and police and sorrow over the dead protesters, developed among the Arab community in Israel. Land Day also resulted in the Arabs gaining a presence in Israeli politics in that they could no longer be ignored. Arab civil society in Israel began coordinating with one another more and protests against government policies became more frequent with a focus on three major issues: land and planning policies, socioeconomic conditions, and Palestinian national rights.

For Palestinians, Land Day has since become a day of commemoration and tribute to those who have fallen in the struggle to hold onto their land and identity. Often serving as a day for the expression of political discontent for Arab citizens of Israel, particularly surrounding issues of equal land and citizenship rights, in 1988, they declared that Land Day should serve as “a Palestinian-Israeli civil national day of commemoration and a day of identification with Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, to be marked by yearly demonstrations and general strikes.” Not only did Land Day work to forge political solidarity among Arab citizens of Israel, but it also worked “[…] in cementing the acceptance of the “1948 Arabs” back into the larger Palestinian world and into the heart of mainstream Palestinian nationalism.”

Gazans to start 46-day protest on Land Day

The Palestinians’ right of return has been a cornerstone of their demands for any settlement of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians’ demand that about five million of their compatriots be granted the right to return to lands and homes in Israel that they or their kin lost.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are planning a six-week-long tent city protest near the Israeli border, starting on March 30, demanding that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes in Israel. Such a demonstration, envisaging families camped out along the border area, could present a dilemma for the Israeli military that enforces a “no-go” zone for Palestinians on land adjacent to Israel’s frontier fence. Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border are frequently confronted by Israeli soldiers with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Ahmed Abu Ayesh, a spokesman for a coordinating committee, said plans were for hundreds or thousands of people, including entire families, to live in tents erected “at the nearest, safe point from the border”. The United Nations, Abu Ayesh said, would be notified of the rally. A statement issued by the organizing committee urged Palestinians in Gaza to take part in this “national project that endorses peaceful resistance as a new way to win our rights, foremost the right of return” of refugees to what is now Israel.

Right of return

Palestinians’ demand that about five million of their compatriots be granted the right to return to lands and homes in Israel that they or their kin lost.
The Palestinians’ right of return has been a cornerstone of their demands for any settlement of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians’ demand that about five million of their compatriots be granted the right to return to lands and homes in Israel that they or their kin lost. Israel rules this out, fearing that the Palestinians’ return would eliminate its Jewish majority, and argues the refugees should resettle in a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories it occupied in the 1967 war. One of the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the right of return. Article 13(b) of the UDHR states: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Source of above two articles

Hanan Ashrawi condemns Israel’s unlawful-draconian measures“With every obstacle and barrier implemented by Israel, we will persevere and provide hope in the face of devastation and despair”.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement on the 42nd anniversary of Land Day that 42 years later, “the Palestinians in all of historical Palestine continue to endure destruction, displacement and dehumanization at the hands of the right-wing and extremist Israeli government. “By means of its egregious violations, primarily the persistent annexation of land and the expansion of the illegal settlement enterprise, military checkpoints and apartheid walls in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel is acting with impunity and prolonging the military occupation.  It is also causing grave suffering for its Palestinian citizens with discriminatory and unjust laws, proposals and measures and denying them of their basic and fundamental rights as citizens of Israel.” Ashrawi concluded: “As we observe this national day and honor our brothers and sisters who were murdered, we pay tribute to the Palestinian people everywhere for their courage and resilience in the face of Israeli racism, colonialism and violence. “With every obstacle and barrier implemented by Israel, we will persevere and provide hope in the face of devastation and despair”. She reaffirmed the PLO’s commitment to “to popular non-violent activism and political, legal and diplomatic efforts…”
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Why Is Israel Worried? – – What’s different this year? 

Israel traumatizes and represses the people of Gaza. A people ruthlessly suppressed will rise and rebel. Israel fears the boomerang of its own actions.
In addition to incidents along the Gaza-Israel border, a number of factors have led observers and officials to worry about the potential for violence.  Assessments suggest that Hamas will rally some 100,000 people to demonstrate this coming Friday. While the display of protest is meant to be nonviolent, Israel is preparing for outbreaks of violence. The recent detonations of explosive devices along the border and the crossing of three armed Palestinians into Israel on Tuesday morning on have brought the always-simmering tensions closer to a boiling point. Hamas’s military arm conducted a large-scale drill throughout the Gaza Strip on Sunday, with machine-gun fire triggering Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Furthermore, the collapse of reconciliation efforts between Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah means there is no end in sight for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Meanwhile, a number of significant dates are likely to contribute to more protests: the upcoming Passover holiday, the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and Israel 70th Independence Day. And it’s not just Gaza. In the West Bank and Jerusalem, one Israeli civilian and two soldiers were killed by Palestinian attackers within the space of three days this month.
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Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.
Mahmoud Darwish.