Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, stands with our Palestinian people and the friends of Palestine everywhere to mark the 44th Palestinian Land Day. On March 30, 1976, Israeli occupation forces killed six people in occupied Palestine ’48 as they marched to defend their land from Zionist programs of colonization that aimed to confiscate over 20,000 dunums (5,000 acres) of Palestinian land in the Galilee.
The names of these Palestinian martyrs – Kheir Mohammad Salim Yasin, Khadija Qasem Shawahneh, Raja Hussein Abu Rayya, Khader Eid Mahmoud Khalayleh, Muhsin Hasan Said Taha and Raafat Ali Al-Zheiri – became immortal, marking a Palestinian day of struggle and commemoration that continues to the present day. Two years ago, in besieged Gaza, Palestinians commemorated Land Day by gathering in the tens of thousands in a mass, popular march: the Great March of Return.
The Great March of Return highlighted the deep connections between land, liberation and return in Palestine: the return of Palestinian refugees, forced from their homes and lands in the Nakba by Zionist occupation forces, is the key to the liberation of Palestinian land. Just as in 1976, the Zionist military met this march with murderous force, killing 16 demonstrators in a popular march defending their rights: to land, to return, to liberation: Naji Abu Hajir, Mohammed Kamal Al-Najjar, Wahid Nasrallah Abu Samour, Amin Mansour Abu Muammar, Mohammed Naeem Abu Amr, Ahmed Ibrahim Ashour Odeh, Jihad Ahmed Fraina, Mahmoud Saadi Rahmi, Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi, Ibrahim Salah Abu Shaar, Abd al-Qader Marhi al-Hawajri, Sari Walid Abu Odeh, Hamdan Isma’il Abu Amsha, Jihad Zuhair Abu Jamous, and Bader al-Sabbagh. Since that time, the colonial occupation forces slaughtered 300 more Palestinians and injured 30,000 more, as they continue to march for their land and their return.
On this 44th Land Day, Palestinians continue to resist and march forward, inside Palestine and in exile and diaspora everywhere. However, this year, there are new challenges to face as well as the ongoing crimes of occupation, apartheid and colonialism, such as land theft, mass arrests, extrajudicial executions, denial of basic rights, home demolitions and comprehensive apartheid. COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has entered besieged Gaza, and Palestinians’ very right to live is threatened by the Israeli siege, backed by the United States, European Union, Canada and other parties. Gaza lacks the health infrastructure, ventilators and protective equipment necessary to treat victims of COVID-19 as a direct result of the criminal siege imposed on the Palestinian people.
As a result, the Higher National Committee for the Great March of Return and many organizations inside and outside Palestine called for a virtual march for #PalestineLandDay, to demand health, freedom, return and liberation for all Palestinians – and, indeed, for the people of the world.
Everywhere, Zionist colonization threatens Palestinian health, from the confiscation of tents in the Jordan Valley for the construction of a coronavirus clinic, to the denial of basic sanitary supplies and access to lawyers for 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including nearly 200 imprisoned children. Medical neglect is a daily practice for the Israeli prison authorities and amid the global pandemic of COVID-19, poses an even more severe threat to the lives and health of imprisoned Palestinians. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to spend billions of dollars on military aid to Israel to further besiege and imprison Palestinians, even as hospitals in the U.S. lack the basic equipment needed to treat coronavirus sufferers.
Today, Al-Awda joins the global march for Palestine on #PalestineLandDay. Land Day was conceived and sparked by the Palestinian people in occupied Palestine ’48, and it has become a day for all Palestinians, in ’48, in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Gaza, in the camps and everywhere in exile and diaspora. It is truly a day of unified struggle of a united people.
Internationally, it is an urgent call for solidarity that highlights the deep connection of the indigenous Palestinian people to the land that cannot be severed by over 70 years of colonization and exile. The Day of the Land and the Great Return March which continues to carry it forward reflects the central struggle of the Palestinian people: for return and for liberation, for Palestine, from the river to the sea.
We urge all supporters of Al-Awda and of Palestine to join in the global virtual march for #PalestineLandDay today, 30 March. We join in the call of our New York chapter and the NY4Palestine Coalition to elevate the Palestinian right of return and honor the martyrs of the Great Return March by:
- Taking a photo of yourself with the name/photo of martyrs of the #GreatMarchofReturn and/or with a Palestinian flag. Include their original city or village inside occupied Palestine!
- Include a caption on why you support the right of Palestinians to return home, and use any of these hashtags: #PalestineLandDay #GreatReturnMarch #ReturnWithinOurLifetime
- Posting it on social media or websites and tagging 3 people to do the same!
We also urge people to support these calls for action on Palestinian Land Day:
- Land Day March 30: Global Virtual Day of Action for Gaza & Palestine in the time of Covid-19 – US Palestinian Community Network, Palestinian Youth Movement and SJP National
- Virtual call to action for Palestine: COVID-19, Gaza and the Struggle for Justice – Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
- On Land Day let’s reaffirm the right of return to Palestine – Palestinian Return Centre
- Elevate the Palestinian Right of Return, Honor the Martyrs of the Great March of Return – NY4Palestine Coalition