In 1948, Israel stole 78%
of Palestine. In 1967, they took the rest. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict
remains the longest unresolved one of our time.
Long denied justice awaits. Western complicity with Israel prevents
Palestinians from living free. So did Arafat's Oslo surrender. Abbas
and PA cronies continue working against their own people for whatever
benefits they derive.
Palestine's an isolated prison. State terror is official Israeli policy.
So is attacking nonviolent Palestinian protesters. Edward Said once
said, "Jonathan Swift, thou shouldst be living at this hour."
He'd blanche at how bad things are now. We all should and do something
about it. Change depends on it.
Occupied Palestine is the region's epicenter. Israeli police state terror
suffocates Palestinians for not being Jews. An inexorable quest for
dominance and corrupted self-interest deny justice.
Nonetheless, Palestinians persist. Living free on their own land drives
them. Every March 30 they commemorate what's important to remember every
Since 1976, Palestinians worldwide observe Land Day and why it matters.
Nationwide protests and general strike action erupted. At issue was
Israel's land confiscation policy and brutal occupation harshness.
Israel declared demonstrations illegal. Palestinians ignored the threat
and rallied. Thousands of Israeli security forces confronted them violently.
Six Palestinians died. Dozens more were injured. Hundreds were arrested.
That's how police states operate. Nothing changed to this day. Professors
Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal said Land Day 1976 was special. Palestinians
showed "daring confidence and political awareness" lacking earlier.
This time they weren't "passive or submissive." They "initiated and
coordinated" nationwide political activity. Security force violence
confronted them. Nonetheless, Palestinians showed they'd no longer be
Thirty-six years ago, Israel announced a plan to confiscate thousands
of acres of Palestinian land for "security and settlement purposes."
Palestinians had enough and resisted. They vowed to defend their land
They're important. So are Arab identity and heritage. Occupied Palestinians
and Israeli ones united. They protested against Israel's plan to replace
them with Jews.
In early 1975, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin announced a project to Judaize
the Galilee. "Developing the Galilee," he called it. The idea was to
transform it into a majority Jewish region, construct eight industrial
estates, and develop its economy overall.
On March 1, 1976, General Yisrael Koenig, in charge of Israel's northern
region, prepared a secret report. It planned removing Arabs from the
area, confiscating their land, and Judaizing it.
It warned about Arabs becoming the majority population. He called it
a serious threat to Israel's character. Israelis today warn of a "demographic
bomb." It's when Palestinians will outnumber Jews. Longstanding Israeli
policy aims to prevent it. "De-Arabization," it's called.
Key is displacing Palestinians from their land, stealing all valued
parts, expelling as many non-Jews as possible, consigning those remaining
to worthless, isolated bantustans, and erasing an Arab heritage.
In 1976, Koening recommended encouraging Jewish immigrants to populate
the Galilee and Negev regions. At the same time, he wanted Arabs removed
to accommodate them.
Rabin issued an order to confiscate about 21,000 dunams in Deir Hanna,
Sakhnin and Arabeh. Land Day protests resulted. It was a milestone,
a turning point in Israeli/Palestinian relations. For the first time,
masses across Palestine and Israel challenged what no one should tolerate.
It was also a catalyzing event. It united them to resist occupation
and repression. The price of freedom involves resistance. One day alone
isn't enough, but Land Day is important.
Dozens of cities worldwide commemorate it. Diaspora Palestinians participate.
So do supporters. On Land Day 2012, Haaretz said clashes erupted in
Jerusalem, at checkpoints, and at the border crossing near Rachel's
Other rallies occurred across the West Bank and Gaza. Thousands rallied
in Deir Hanna. Defense Minister Ehud Barak deployed security forces
to confront them. Border crossings were closed. Palestinians and supporters
participated in a "Global March to Jerusalem."
Clashes erupted. Dozens of Palestinians were injured. At least one death
occurred. Maan News reported on how the day unfolded. Thousands participated
but less than expected.
Nonetheless, unity won the day. "Not just in the occupied territory
but in Arab states and elsewhere, all for this goal." Activist Abir
Kopty said "(u)nity is so important for us, for Palestinians."
Commenting on how PA security forces worked jointly with Israeli ones,
she added: "It's a shame. What else can I say? Just a shame."
According to the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, 34 protesters
were arrested. Amnesty International's Ann Harrison said:
"News that Israeli forces are firing live ammunition on Land Day demonstrators
near the Erez Crossing in Gaza, and that scores have been injured in
protests in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem is extremely
worrying, particularly in the light of frequent and persistent use of
excessive force against Palestinian protesters."
"We are also concerned at reports that Palestinian Authority security
forces have tried to prevent protests in areas under their control,
while Hamas security forces have beaten protesters in Gaza. All those
involved in policing demonstrations should respect freedom of assembly
and must adhere to international policing standards."
Hezbollah's Sheikh Nabil Kauk said:
"The nation's right to the whole of Palestine is not dead. Palestine
is not waiting for the Arab summit or international decisions. The Palestinian
nation relies on the guns of fighters in Gaza, in Ramallah and in Bint
Gaza protests continued all day. Israel border guards confronted them
with live fire. Over two dozen were wounded, several seriously. Israel
claimed warning shots only were fired.
Witnessing clashes firsthand, Ebaa Rezeq said Israeli forces opened
fire after protesters managed to remove part of a border area metal
fence. "People are falling here like flies," he said. "Blood everywhere."
Mondoweiss contributor Leehee Rothschild said ambulance sirens "combine(d)
with the screams to create a horrible cacophony."
"Once again, I'm struggling to find the words to describe eyes which
are blinded by clouds of tear-gas, and the foul smell of the skunk water
that creeps through the nose. All senses are consumed, and the rubber
coated bullets are buzzing around, they're shooting them from canons
now, ten at once."
Bloody Friday won't easily be forgotten. Nor will other days marked
by Israeli state terror. Hardly any pass without it. Why else do Palestinians
resist to be free?
One day they will be because courage that resolute pays off. Remembering
the six Land Day victims provides inspiration. A Sakhnin cemetery monument
bears their names and inscription saying:
"They sacrificed themselves for us to live." Two sculptors created the
monument, one Jewish, the other Arab. Perhaps it's a good omen.
A Final Comment
On April 25, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined,
"Occupied Lives: Marking Land Day, marking lives," saying:
Peaceful Palestinian demonstrations faced Israeli violence. One death
was reported. Dozens more were injured, including 18 children. Commenting
on the day, Mahmoud Khaled Mahmoud Abed Nabi said:
He "was shot in the chest. The bullet entered on the left of my chest
and exited from my right side. It was fired from a watchtower in the
The incident occurred at Beit Hanoun checkpoint near Israel's border
"I had been to demonstrations before, marking different events," said
Mahmoud. "Land Day is a very important day because we have to defend
our lands, which continue to be occupied by Israel. We have to sacrifice
to protect them."
"All the young people were going to the area to protest, because it
is such a well-known day, even internationally. I marched with others
and went beyond where the Gazan authorities were stopping people, and
we headed towards the border."
Mahmoud said soldiers shot tear gas, shouted threats through loudspeakers,
and "started firing bullets directly at us. There were no warning shots."
They shot a few at a time. Those injured were taken out by motorbike.
He said his wounds were serious. He's in pain and not improving. The
bullet passed near his heart. He explained his family can't afford costly
antibiotics he needs to take. Infections are developing. He has difficulties
breathing and sometimes throws up blood.
He was severely wounded earlier when Israeli soldiers shot him and a
friend gathering wood during Cast Lead. Neither one fully recovered.
Now this. If he survives, he worries about his future. "I cannot work
in this condition," he said. The pain's too much to bear.
Israeli violence destroys many lives. Many survivors aren't the same.
International law mandated right to life didn't help them.
State terror is official Israeli policy. Palestinian resistance won't
quit until it ends. One day it will. Bet on it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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