Posted on March 31, 2017
“The land belongs to its owners,” people in Deir Hanna chanted on Thursday at a demonstration commemorating Land Day.
Thousands of Arab Israelis and Palestinians participated in events around Israel, West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the largest rally taking place in Deir Hanna in the Lower Galilee, where Joint Lists MKs and local leaders chanted against the Israeli government, while waving Palestinian flags.
The annual event commemorates the death of six Arab Israelis who were killed by police at a demonstration on March 30, 1976, against a government plan to confiscate thousands of hectares of land from Arab-Israeli villages.
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said this year’s Land Day comes at a pivotal time for the Arab-Israeli community.
“In light of the government’s wild incitement against us, home demolitions and the legislation of laws, which solely aim to harm and incite against the Arab public, this day and this struggle is important more than ever,” he said. “We are standing in front of the bulldozers and the incitement of the prime minister and his cabinet.”
The past year has seen a significant increase in demolitions of unlicensed structures in Arab-Israeli communities.
In the past several months, Israeli security services demolished 11 structures in Kalansuwa, a village near Kfar Saba, and many homes in Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in the Negev.
The demolitions, which many Arab-Israeli leaders say are politically motivated, have given rise to several protests.
Israeli officials say they only demolish homes that lack the necessary permits. Arab-Israeli leaders say these permits are extremely difficult to obtain.
At a ceremony in Khirbat Abu Falah, a village north of Ramallah, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Palestinians have no plans to abandon their land.
“We will remain here as long as the olive tree does,” Hamdallah said.
In Madama, a village near Nablus, clashes broke out at a tree planting activity. Palestinian news site Wafa said the IDF suppressed the event, leaving 45 wounded.
The IDF said “hundreds of Palestinians hurled rocks at security forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber coated bullets.” No soldiers were wounded.