Today, 30th March, is Land Day in Palestine and is marked by Palestinians wherever they live. Land Day is held on the anniversary of March 30, 1978,when Palestinian villages and cities across the country witnessed mass demonstrations against the states plans to expropriate 2,000 hectares of land in and around the Arab villages of Araba and Sakhnin as a part of a plan to "Judaise the Galilee".Israel's Galilee region. In coordination with the military, some 4,000 police officers were dispatched to quell the unrest. At the end of the day, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, and over one hundred injured by state security forces.
The Day of the land - or Land Day marked the first mass mobilization of Palestinians within Israel against internal colonialism and land theft. It also signalled the failure of Israel to subjugate Palestinians who remained in their towns and villages, after around 700,000 of them were either expelled or forced to flee battles or massacres committed by Zionist armed groups in 1948.It's commemoration is a reaffirmation that the Palestinians who remained in the area on which Israel was declared in 1948, are an inseperable part of the Palestinian people and their struggle.
This important day in Palestinian history commemorates the Palestinians sense of belonging to a people, to a cause and a country, to stand united against racial oppression and rules of apartheid,and the discriminatory practices of the Israeli government, giving continual potency to the Palestinians cause , its quest for justice and Palestinian rights, and its resistance to injustice,who never cease to fight for their land while holding passionately to their history and identity. It is the right of return, recognised in the United Nations Resolution 194, that drives Palestinians to continue with the commemoration of Land Day - regardless of their geographical location.
The day is commemorated annually by Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and further afield in refugee camps and among the Palestinian diaspora worldwide, with demonstrations, marches and by planting olive and fruit trees. Land Day is typically met with violent Israeli repression. Today many of the Land Day protests against the theft of their lands focus on the Negev region, since much of the land that has been marked for appropriation in the Galilee has already been confiscated. The Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel also now face the appropriation of 800,000 dunams of the Negev by the Israeli state.The housing situation for the Bedouin remains dire. Settlements that house 160,000 people are deemed "illegal" by Israel, and risk demolition. The issue of land allocation and housing for Palestinian citizens of Israel has now reached crisis point.
Land Day therefore continues to be poignantly relevant as Israel continues to confiscate land, expand their colonies, and continue to build their illegal settlements in flagrant violation of all international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law.Land day is a Palestine day, a day for its people to proudly declare that they are one from the River to the Sea.
The Land Day strike inspired the following powerful poem by Tawfiq Zayyad, Palestinian poet, writer, scholar and politician, that continues to resonate across the Palestinian generations.
Here we will stay - Tawfiq Zayyad ( 7/5/ 29 - 5/7/ 94)
In Lidda, in Ramla, in the Galilee,
we shall remain
like a wall upon your chest,
and in your throat
like a shrad of glass,
a cactus thron,
and in your eyes
We shall remain
a wall upon your chest,
clean dishes in your restaurants,
serve drinks in your bars,
sweep the floors of your kitchens
to snatch a bite for our children
from your blue fangs.
Here we shall stay,
sing our songs,
take to the angry streets,
fill prisons with dignity.
In Lidda, in Ramla, in the galilee,
we shall remain,
guard the shade of the fig
and olive trees,
ferment rebellion in our children
as yeast in the dough.
Link to poem by Mahmoud Darwish on the same theme :-