March 30, 1976, is a sacred and “painful” date. On that day, Israeli occupation forces confiscated a total of 5500 acres of land from the Palestinian villages of the Galilee, in northern Palestine. These areas were classified by the Israelis as “closed military zones” and later fell subject to heavy illegal settlement expansion. The confiscation of land provoked heavy confrontations between Palestinian citizens and Israeli military forces, confrontations that claimed the lives of 6 Palestinians, injured 96, and resulted in the arrest of 300.
Perhaps there is no better occasion than today to call upon Israel to “stop” land theft and to cease all settlement activities on occupied Palestinian land. Since 1967, Israel has confiscated almost 750,000 acres of land from the 1.5 million acres comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These illegal actions have come under continuous attack from various international bodies and organizations, as well as governments.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 clearly asserts that the “…occupying power cannot move segments of its own population to parts of the land it occupies,” or make any demographic changes that are not in the interest of the occupied. Furthermore, provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention have unquestionably condemned Israel’s settlement activities and demanded the ceasing of “all” settlement expansion by Israel.
The Israeli government is evidently not making any efforts, or expressing any willingness, to alter its policies; settlements continue to grow, and land is being confiscated regularly.
Palestinian Land Day is a day for remembrance. Yet equally, it is a day for demonstration against injustice, and a call for freedom. (MIFTAH)