Palestinian-Arabs in Israel Mark 39th Land Day with Protests

Palestinian-Arabs in Israel marked the 39th anniversary of Land Day on Monday, March 30, with protests and the waving of Palestinian flags in Jerusalem, the Galilee, and the Negev. The Monitoring Committee of the Israeli-Arab Leadership, which annually organizes the protests, did not call this year for a general strike in the Arab sector as it has in years past. Land Day is held every year on March 30 to commemorate the 1976 deaths of six Arab youths from the north of the country during demonstrations against a government decision to confiscate Arab lands as part of its ongoing effort to “Judaicize the Galilee.”

Demonstrators at the Land Day rally in Deir Hanna, March 30, 2015

Demonstrators at the Land Day rally in Deir Hanna, March 30, 2015 (Photo: Al-Ittihad)

This year’s central event, held in the town of Deir Hanna in the Lower Galilee, was attended and addressed by a number of Joint List MKs, Arab leaders, and political activists. In the Negev, hundreds of protestors marched in the Arab-Bedouin city of Rahat, where Ta’al party chairman MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) told reporters that “67 years have passed since the establishment of Israel and there still is no equitable allocation of land.” Instead, he said, “there is the continued expropriation of Arab land in favor of the Jewish majority.”

Newly-elected MK Ayman Odeh, leader of Hadash and the Joint List, attacked the lack of planning and construction in Arab communities, the result of the Israel authorities’ generations-long deliberate and malicious bureaucratic foot dragging in these vital realms. Odeh also specifically emphasized one of the more prominent manifestations of this discriminatory policy: the issue of the unrecognized Arab-Bedouin villages in the Negev. He summed up the general situation saying, “The issue of land remains the major obstacle in relations between the state of Israel and its Arab minority which aspires to be equal.”