More than 20,000 people participated today in the central Land Day Demonstration - 'Yowm al Ard' in Arabic - (marching from the Palestinian village of Sakhnin to Arabeh), protesting against the land confiscations, house demolitions, the arrest of the leadership of the Islamic movement and of the Abnaa elBalad movement, the Occupation, the Apartheid wall and the assassinations of Palestinian leaders.
This demonstration takes place every year and goes back to events in 1976 when the Israeli government took a decision to confiscate 20 thousand "dunums" of Palestinian farmland. The land was to be used to build new Jewish settlements and also a military training camp.
By the end of March 1976, the Zionists had just confiscated more Palestinian farmland, and they declared all Arab villages and towns as military zones. And on the villages of Sakhnin, Arabeh, Der-Hannah, Turhan, Tamra, and Kabul (all in lower Galilee), a curfew was imposed, which was to be effective from 5pm on March 29, 1976.
On the morning of March 30 1976, the Palestinians organised a general strike, which was accompanied by workers marching through the streets of Palestinian towns, from Galilee to the Negev. The Israeli government sent in the army and police with tanks and heavy artillery. The demonstrations were brutally attacked. Unarmed Palestinian workers were shot at. Dozens were wounded and seven were killed, mostly young teenagers. One of those youth was a 16 year-old, Khaddeajeh Shawahdeh killed in Sakhnin. She had just stepped outside of her home to pull her young 5-year old brother back into the safety of the house. That is just one of the victims of that day.
And that is how Land Day became a day of Palestinian protest and resistance, a day when all Palestinians, inside Israel, in the Occupied Territories, and beyond stand up for their rights. It brings together the struggles of all Palestinians, both those who are "Israeli citizens" and those who are outside the borders of the present day Israel.
This day, almost 30 years on, is still a day of mass protest, because the
confiscations continue – and there is no end in sight to this process. The
wall the Israeli government is building amounts to confiscation and de facto
annexation of large areas of land that up until recently was at least recognised
as "Occupied Territory" and not part of Israel proper. Now the Palestinians in
the "Occupied Territories" feel more oppressed
than ever. The reactionary government of Israel has been applying what is known as "closures". This basically amounts to a sealing off of all Palestinian towns and villages. This prevents the people living in these towns from travelling. It transforms them into what amounts to almost "open prisons".
Blair, Bush and company talk a lot about "rights". They went to war in 1991 to restore Kuwait's "independence". But when it comes to the Palestinians, they have no rights, no recognition. The Israeli government is allowed to take their land, to occupy it, to oppress them for decades and no government is prepared to take a stand. Israel has ignored "international law" for many years, and they have the tacit support of imperialism in all this.
It is this decades-long oppression of a whole nation that has created the present hell that has become modern day Israel/Palestine, where two peoples are pitted against each other, used as pawns in a bigger game, which involves the strategic, economic, military and political interests of the capitalist class both within Israel and on a world scale.
Today should be a day for remembering all those who have been killed in this conflict, but also to seek a way out of this morass. Lessons should be drawn. Nationalism has given no fruits. The only road is that of the class struggle, internationalism and socialism. For the root cause of the whole problem is the capitalist system itself, a system based on profits for the few and suffering for the working masses.
March 30, 2004
The first shows Israeli Arabs (Palestinians) working on a building site at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) with red crosses on their helmets. The other two show today's demonstration. We referred to this in a previous article. It is so that special snipers keeping guard over the site can pick out the Palestinians if they need to shoot for security reasons. It gives you a clear idea of how these "Israeli citizens" are really viewed.
[The photographs have been taken from the www.abnaa-elbalad.org web site]