Skip to main content

Palestinians mark annual Land Day protests in 'difficult atmosphere'

Organiser says annual demonstration of resistance will go ahead despite 'bloodshed' of past week
A Palestinian argues with Israeli soldiers near the Israeli settlement of Migdalim, south of Nablus, during demonstrations to mark Land Day, on 29 March 2022 (AFP)

Palestinians have taken to the streets for the annual Land Day protests in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, with tensions running high after 11 Israelis were killed in the past week.

Land Day has been commemorated since 1976, when Israeli police shot dead six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were protesting against the expropriation of Palestinian land in northern Israel for Jewish settlers.

Mohammed Barakeh, chair of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee (HAMC), announced that the demonstrations would go ahead despite the "difficult atmosphere and the bloodshed".

Five Israelis were shot dead in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening by a Palestinian gunman. It followed a number of other killings of Israelis earlier in the week. The killings prompted widespread arrests of Palestinians and threats of reprisal from far-right Israeli groups.

What is Palestinian ‘Land Day’?
Read More »

Speaking to Haaretz, a member of the HAMC said it would not be letting the attackers "dictate the agenda".

“We will continue with the events even if [participation] is limited," the spokesperson said, speaking anonymously.

"We condemn the attacks; the assailants not only hurt innocent people, they also pour fuel on the incitement against Arab citizens ahead of Ramadan.”

The demonstration is due to begin in the Palestinian-majority city of Sakhnin in northern Israel, following the laying of wreaths at a memorial to those killed in 1976. Protesters will then continue to the city of Arabeh and then to Deir Hanna, where the main rally is scheduled to take place.

Speaking at the wreath laying in Sakhnin, Ahmed Khalayleh, whose brother Khader was one of those killed in 1976, said their quest for justice would remain peaceful.

"The martyrs are the sons of the entire Palestinian people, and we will continue their path through the peaceful struggle and the preservation of our existence and our land, and we reject the methods of the [Islamic State] struggle," he said. "Rather, we will remain loyal to the blood of the martyrs who paved the way for us by preserving our land."

Demonstrations are also planned in besieged Gaza, though unlike in previous years they will be taking place at Gaza Port rather than at the border fence with Israel. The border fence has in recent years been the scene of hundreds of deaths, with Israeli security forces shooting dead Palestinian protesters.

According to Haaretz, officials in Hamas - which controls the Gaza Strip - decided on the change of location so as not to further inflame tensions in the region.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.