Palestinians across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday gathered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of “Land Day.”
The first Land Day, on March 30, 1976, saw thousands of Palestinians take to the streets in protest of the confiscation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land in the northern Galilee region of Israel. During the protest, six demonstrators were shot dead and over 100 were wounded.
Forty years later, Palestinians are still taking to the streets in protest of massive Israeli land grabs.
So far this year, Israeli authorities have announced the confiscation of more than 500 acres of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley area, in preparation for illegal Israeli settlement construction.
Yousef Sharqawy, a well-known Palestinian activist, told Mondoweiss during a march in the West Bank city of Bethlehem that this year’s Land Day was very important due to Israel’s “bold” confiscation of land in the Jordan Valley.
“The international community condemned this land grab, but Israel has continued anyway, so it is important we keep making our voices heard,” Sharqawy said. “If Israel continues they will split the West Bank in half, connecting the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem and Palestinians will be confined ever more.”
In addition to several land grabs, Israeli forces have demolished half as many Palestinians homes in the first few months of 2016 as they did in all of 2015, according to United Nations documentation.
The UN added that last month saw the most home demolitions in one 30 day period than any other since the UN started its documentation in 2009.
In the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, Palestinians dedicated this year’s Land Day to the tens of bodies of Palestinian children being held by Israeli forces.
Ahlam al-Wahish, a director of the Palestinian Women’s Union, said Israeli forces have been holding the bodies of 16 Palestinian minors from Bethlehem since the First and Second Intifadas.
“We are here because of Land Day, and these kids on our shirts and our signs died on Palestinian land,” al-Wahish said. “They are all of our children and they gave their lives for this land.”
Around 200 marchers were in attendance, with more gathering as the march made its way through the city.
In a statement commemorating Land Day, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat called on the international community to intervene against Israel’s “apartheid” policies.
“On this day we salute the heroic Palestinian people wherever they are and once again we call upon the international community to take action against Tel Aviv’s racist colonization policies, including its racism against Palestinian citizens of Israel,” Erekat said.