March 30, “Land Day,” is an annual commemoration of the events of that date in 1976, when strikes and violent riots of Israeli Arabs erupted throughout the country, over government plans to appropriate a large area of land inside the “green line” to be used for security and housing purposes. Six Arabs were killed at the time.
The majority of Land Day demonstrators have always been Israeli Arabs, who carry Israeli ID cards and enjoy all the privileges of life in a Western democracy. This Saturday afternoon, ten thousand Israeli Arabs attended the central rally in the thriving Israeli-Arab town of Sakhnin. The Procession included activists from human rights organizations and supporters of Bedouin rights.
The participants, all Israeli citizens, raised Palestinian flags, and some activists were waving Syrian flags, in support of the Assad regime. Hadash party chairman MK Mohammed Barakeh said that “the commemoration of the 37th Land Day was marked by an escalation on the part of the establishment of taking what is left of the land of Arab citizens in the Negev, in addition to the Arab land shortages in the Galilee and the Arab Triangle.”
Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded during a riot on Saturday outside the town of Qalqiliya in Judea and Samaria. The riot began at a large demonstration on the occasion of “Land Day.” A medical team evacuated the two soldiers to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba for further treatment. A 5-year-old child injured by a stone thrown by Arabs at his vehicle outside the settlement of Efrat was taken to Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem.
Immediately after the child had been injured, clashes erupted between some 20 Arabs with IDF soldiers, who responded with crowd dispersal means. Disturbances were also reported in Qalandiya, where a hundred Arabs clashed with IDF soldiers, who were forced to use riot dispersal means. No injuries were reported.
One person was arrested Saturday in a Land Day procession of a few dozen Arab residents of East Jerusalem, after police ordered demonstrators to disperse. There were no casualties in that incident.
During the Land Day rally in the town of Sakhnin, a crowd of pro-Syrian Arabs beat up an al-Jazeera crew member, to protest the network’s coverage of events in Syria. The Muslim network refused to file a complaint with the Israeli police.
A jeep with three Arabs was spotted outside the town of Ofarim in Judea and Samaria, as three rifles started to emerge from inside the vehicle. A police force gave chase, during which the Arabs threw their weapons out the windows. When finally stopped, the Arabs claimed to be hunters. Two hunting rifles and ammunition were found in the car. Al,three were taken in for questioning.