An unusually bloody Land Day in Palestine

Israeli forces killed 15 Palestinians and injured hundreds more during protests for the Right of Return.


Posted By : Ahmad Jaradat March 31, 2018 

Clashes between young men and occupation forces east of Gaza City, March 30, 2018. Photo credit : Hatem Mousa for WAFA.

By the end of Land Day, March 30, 2018, 15 Palestinians were killed and 1,416 were wounded with live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas. It was a bloody, difficult day in Palestine. Saturday will be a day of mourning in honor of those killed across Palestine today.
In response to the call of the International Coordination Committee for the Greater Return March, tens of thousands of Palestinians moved to contact areas with the Israeli occupation along the wall that besieges the Gaza Strip for Land Day. The Committee announced five locations on Gaza’s border for protest.
Out of 1.9 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 1.3 million (or 70 percent) are registered as refugees with the United Nations.
The Israeli government deployed snipers and tanks along the border in anticipation of the peace marches scheduled. But, risk of death did not deter protesters, who were encouraged to march by leaders of political parties and the civil society movements.
All protesters advocated for a unified agenda : “the right of return is holy, no peace without achieving it. We are here, close to our villages, cities, homes and land in Palestine.”
Thousands of families built protest tents near the border in which old people spoke to the new generations about their land inside ‘48.



Protest tents, east of Gaza City, March 30, 2018. Photo credit : Rafi Hamel for WAFA.

Youth activist Fatima El Abed Allah explained :
We flew paper plains across [the Israeli wall] to our land in [the area of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1948.] We came with our children to tell them the story of our exile and to show them our land, even from far away. [We did this in order to] uphold this right of return from one generation to the next.
The peace marches began early in the morning and so did the brutal Israeli crackdown. One of the first Palestinians killed was Omar Samoor, a 31 year old who marched in al-Braka, east of Khan Younis. Samoor’s death sparked a massive turnout in marches later in the day.



The funeral for martyr Omar Samoor in Khan Yunis, March 30, 2018. Photo credit : WAFA.

Palestinians also held Land Day demonstrations and marches in the West Bank. In al-Bira, near Ramallah, hundreds of youth held a demonstration north of the city near the Israeli military at Beit El settlement. In Hebron, hundreds of locals clashed with Israeli soldiers at the entrance to the Israeli-besieged al-Shuhada Street in the center of the city.



Clashes between the youth and the occupation forces in the center of Hebron, March 30, 2018. Photo credit : Mashhour and Hawah for WAFA.

Many activists described what happened today as an unusual day in Palestine, even against the frame of the recently heightened political situation considering US President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. The backdrop to this decision is the expansion of Israeli settlements and policies of occupation across Palestine.
What happened today in Palestine allowed a basic, yet constantly overlooked message to finally reverberate around the world : for the colonial conflict in Palestine to be solved, the national rights of Palestinian people, which includes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, must be respected and implemented. This sentiment reflects the voice of the people on Land Day.
Today, on Land Day, most of Palestinian leaders and political parties announced that resistance to the occupation and politics would begin anew because the Palestinian people united in spite of political divisions.
Today, the war against Palestine was mainly focused on in Gaza, where tens of thousands of people raised one voice to call for an end to Palestinian division and Israeli occupation.

Ahmad Jaradat is Senior Project Coordinator of the Alternative Information Center.

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