March 30 marked the 30th commemoration of Land Day throughout Palestine, in the Palestinian Diaspora, and internationally. This year’s central demonstration was held in Lid, near the Palestinian coast, occupied in 1948 when the majority of the people of Lid were expelled by the Zionist forces, thus made into refugees, awaiting return. Today, Palestinians in Lid face continued and escalating Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing.
In Lid, demonstrators numbered in the thousands, with slogans calling for an end to the expulsion taking place through the Judaization of the land and demolition of Palestinian homes. Demands for the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees could be heard throughout, as were calls reflecting Palestinian unison on both sides of the Green Line: “From Lid to Halhoul…from Ramle to Jenin…Long Live the Palestinian People” and “From Gaza the Decision Came: Intifada and Victory.”
Land Day marks Palestinian national unity as Palestinians struggle to defend their land from unending colonization. In 1976, Israeli forces gunned down and murdered 6 Palestinians in the Galilee during a general strike and demonstration against continued Israeli appropriation of Palestinian land and settlement expansion.
In addition to Lid, demonstrations were held in the Galilee, Jerusalem, the Naqab, and areas where the Apartheid Wall is being built and where large-scale land confiscation is taking place. Demonstrations were held in Rafat and Beit Sira as well as in Hebron and the Jordan Valley.
The decision to have the central demonstration in Lid, the first time in the last 30 years of Land Day demonstrations, was an expression of solidarity with those who have had their homes demolished in Lid in recent months, and amid the increasing threats facing the Palestinians of Lid and Ramle as Israeli authorities continue to issue demolition orders. Israeli authorities have already handed out immediate demolition orders for some 800 homes in the Lid and Ramle areas.
In the past two years, there have been numerous joint efforts by the Palestinians of Lid and Ramle in order to pressure the Authorities to cease land confiscation and the denial of building permits. As explained by a statement from the Popular Committee of the Arabs of Lid, the Israeli response to these demands was to increase the number of demolition orders and, in the past months leading up to Land Day, beginning the demolitions.
Palestinians in Lid are continuously targeted with discriminatory and suppressive policies and measures. One of the leaflets disseminated at the demonstration stated the reality facing Lid and all of Palestine: “We cannot describe what is taking place today, with the continued house demolitions and land confiscation, but as a chapter of the many chapters of our 1948 Nakba which continues unabated…”
The Lid demonstration began at the Great Mosque and Al-Khader Church, with a procession through one of the main streets, where police surrounded and closed off the area to ensure the demonstration remained contained and far from the rest of Lid, which today has been overrun by Jewish settlement. Palestinian homes destroyed or Occupied by settlers can be seen throughout Lid.
Gabriela Becker is a researcher and writer from the US currently based in Occupied Jerusalem. She has been visiting Palestine on and off for the past four years and has worked with a number of Palestinian organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.