Palestinians commemorate 47th anniversary of Land Day

Palestinians commemorate 47th anniversary of Land Day
Palestinians inside and outside their homeland are marking the 47th anniversary of Land Day, when a landmark protest was held against Israeli attempts to expropriate Palestinian land.
3 min read
30 March, 2023
Many Palestinians use the occasion to emphasise their right to return to their homes in Palestine [Getty]

Palestinians inside and outside their motherland on Thursday marked the 47th anniversary of Land Day.

Land Day commemorates the events of 30 March 1976, when six Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli police for protesting the Israeli government’s decision to "Judaise the Galilee" by expropriating 21,000 dunams of Palestinian land to build more Israeli settlements in the Galillee region.

The protest was definitive in Palestinian history, as it marked the first act of collective civil disobedience by Palestinians against Israeli policies, within Israel's borders, since the 1948 Nakba. 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes during the Nakba to make way for the creation of Israel.

The Israeli decision to expropriate the land would have further evicted Palestinians who remained within the 1948 borders following the Nakba. Israel seized millions of dunams of Palestinian land directly after the 1948 Nakba before "confiscating" over one million more between 1948 and 1972. 

Palestinians across the diaspora have highlighted the importance of commemorating the anniversary.

"Land is central to the Palestinian struggle, and this is the case whether you’re living on the land of historic Palestine or outside of it," Jeanine Hourani of the Palestinian Youth Movement told The New Arab.

"Seeing people around the world commemorating Land Day is really testament to… the displacement that has been caused by the Zionist project and how we have been geographically fragmented around the world," she added.

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Many Palestinians use the occasion to highlight their right to return. United Nations Resolution 194, adopted in 1948, holds that refugees should be able to return to their homes at the "earliest practicable date".

The resolution also states "compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible".

However, 75 years on Israel refuses either to allow millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return or to compensate them.

"Land Day reaffirms [that] the importance of return and liberation are inextricably linked to each other… … my call to action for people is… to organise and commit to showing up consistently for Palestine every single day," Hourani added, stating "commemoration is not enough on its own".

Many Palestinians also feel a deep sense of unity on this day, as they stand together in the face of their collective trauma.

"Despite living in the US all my life, I have always felt that my heart is in Palestine. Land Day is a day that unifies all of us, in the diaspora, around our love of this homeland," writer Susan Darraj told The New Arab.

Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians has been described as "apartheid" by the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, as well as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other organisations.

After taking over 77% of historic Palestine and displacing most of its inhabitants in 1948, Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territories -  the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

It withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 but imposed a crippling siege on it.