Thirty-five years ago, six Palestinians from the Galilee in what is now northern Israel lost their lives in a bid to protect their land from confiscation. Today, Palestinians everywhere commemorate what has come to be known as Land Day.
Since that day, March 30, 1976, thousands of other Palestinians have lost their lives defending the same cause. At the time, Israeli authorities seized and expropriated 5,500 acres of land from Palestinian villages in the Galilee to expand Jewish settlements in the area. Residents of the villages organized a general strike and peaceful demonstrations in protest of the expropriations and the ongoing confiscation and settlement of Palestinian land.
Israeli authorities, wanting to quell any sign of nationalism and resistance, cracked down hard on the protesters, shooting and killing six men. Nearly 100 others were injured and over 300 people arrested that day.
Land Day has since been marked as a day of remembrance for those who were killed and also a day of protest against Israelís ongoing policy of Palestinian land expropriation. Land Day also marks the first time Palestinians who remained inside the Green Line after Israel was established rose up in unison against Israelís expansionist policies.
Today, Palestinians continue to fight for their land despite international calls for a settlement to the conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state. With the separation wall in the West Bank continuing to grow and taking huge chunks of occupied Palestinian land with it, Palestinians everywhere are acutely aware that the events which set Land Day into motion are still in play today. Still, we remember the fallen and all those before and after them who vowed to defend Palestine and we renew that vow with each anniversary.