Thousands commemorate Palestinian ‘Land Day’
DEIR HANNA: Thousands of Arab Israelis and Palestinians gathered Thursday for annual demonstrations marking Land Day, which commemorates 1976 protests in which six people were killed by Israel.
A few thousand protesters raised the Palestinian flag and chanted slogans at a protest in Deir Hanna in northern Israel.
Smaller protests occurred in Gaza and parts of the occupied West Bank, with clashes near Nablus.
The 1976 protest against Israeli plans to seize large sections of land in northern Israel was met with a violent police response.
Mohammad Barakeh, a former member of the Israeli parliament and organiser, said Land Day had become a symbol of Palestinian suffering.
“The march is a message to our people everywhere,” he told AFP.
“It represents a historical turning point.”
Arab Israelis make up around 17.5 percent of the country’s population and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.
They hold Israeli citizenship but most see themselves as Palestinians and complain of discrimination.
The Adalah NGO, which campaigns for the rights of Arabs in Israel, said in a statement on Thursday that Israeli authorities “persist in their discriminatory policies against Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
In January a local resident and a policeman died during a raid on the Bedouin Arab village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel to demolish a number of homes.