The 33rd Land Day marked Monday was held under the banner of ostracizing Israel, as over 100 groups adhered a call by Ittijah – the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations – and marched against what they called “the growing sense of fascism in Israel.”
Land Day is an annual day of commemoration in the Israeli Arab community and in Arab communities worldwide, meant to protest the 1976 killing of six Arab citizens during an Israeli government’s bid to confiscate Arab lands. It is usually marked by general strikes and mass marches.
Monday saw the tradition upheld as mass protest marches were held in various places in Israel, the West Bank and the world, to protest Israel’s policies against the Palestinian people.
“Israel has been committing crimes against the Palestinian people for years, it is time the world took responsibility,” said Amir Makhoul of Ittijah.
Ittijah is a network for Palestinian non-governmental organizations founded in 1995 in Israel with the aim of Palestinian Arab civil society and advocating political, economic and social change for Palestinians who are denied access to infrastructure and services due to what the group claims in “discriminatory practices and policies of the (Israeli) State”.
Land Day’s main rally is scheduled for Monday evening at the Galilee village of Dir Hana. The main rally will be echoed by mass gatherings in the US, Canada. Germany, Finland, France and Belgium.
Meanwhile, the World Social Forum (WSF) – an umbrella group for hundreds of social, anti-globalization and rights groups worldwide – announced it would be launching a campaign calling on all of its affiliates to excommunicate Israel.
The WSF, said Makhoul, “has adopted our call to have Israel ostracized in various arenas, starting with rescinding various privileges and applying financial, professional and academic boycotts. The fact that the campaign is launched on Land Day is important since it proves that Israel still views the Palestinians – in and out of the Green Line – as a strategic threat.”
According to Makhoul, the WSF also stands to urge the European Union not to upgrade its standing relations with Israel. Talks between Jerusalem and Brussels to that effect have been suspended since the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
“The world has to understand that once Israel ignores UN and international law stipulations, it is the world that must be held accountable for its crimes, which is why its actions must be censured.
Monday also saw the Association for Civil Rights in Israel publish data indicating that the Arab sector in Israel is still discriminated against, especially when it comes to land allocations.
According to ACRI, only 9% of the land allocated for residential purposes by the Israel Land Administration (ILA) in 2008, was given to the Arab sector. Israel’s Arab sector equals 18.5% of its entire population.