Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Land Day
posted by: Jacob Pace, Interfaith Peace-Builders at 8:02 PM
Today's emotional march in Bethlehem was part of the commemoration of Yom al Ard. Yom al Ard (Land Day) is a national day of action in Palestine. The day commemorates the bloody confrontations between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli police in 1976 when Palestinian citizens of Israel marched to protest land confiscations in the Galilee. Six Palestinians were killed and around 100 injured by Israeli police who opened fire on the demonstration. Since then, Yom al Ard has been a time for Palestinians around the world to march for their national rights.


Yom al Ard in Bethlehem

Foremost among the rights that Israel has stripped from Palestinians is land rights. Like many colonized indigenous people, Palestinians have seen the Israeli state appropriate massive quantities of land for Jewish settlements and colonization.

As Marwan Bishara explains:
In 1948 and the subsequent few years, Israel confiscated nearly 85 percent of the territory within the Green Line [what is now Israel] from Palestinians. Most of this land was taken from the 800,000 Palestinian refugees who were thrown out or fled for fear of massacres during the 1948 war. Over the five decades since then, Israel confiscated more than two-thirds of the land owned by its Palestinian citizens and on which they depended for their livelihood. Their share of land has dropped from 9 percent in 1948 to less than 3 percent in 2000.
There are many shared experiences between the Palestinians who have remained in what is now Israel and those who currently live under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip or in exile around the world. Yom al Ard, however, is one of the few national landmarks commemorated by Palestinians everywhere. In the West Bank, the occasion delivered a message against the Apartheid Wall.

The National Campaign to Resist the Apartheid Wall coordinated protest actions that were organized by local groups around the West Bank. The Campaign called for immediate implementation of the ruling of the International Court of Justice that Israel's Wall is illegal and should be immediately dismantled. The Campaign also clearly stated that any attempt to quantify the loss of Palestinian property caused by the Wall, in order to "pay" Palestinians for the Wall with humanitarian services or reparations, was unacceptable. Following is the statement released by the Campaign:

Statement:
The National Campaign to Resist The Apartheid Wall

Through popular resistance we confront the Apartheid Wall and force the implementation of the ICJ decision to dismantle the Wall

To our people, to those confronting Occupation Forces, their bulldozers and the Wall, with their bare hands!

While the implementation of the ICJ decision continues to be negated by the international community, the Occupation Forces continue to build their Apartheid Wall throughout the West Bank, confiscating our land and ruining our lives. In the meantime our people have undertaken their own implementation of the ICJ decision through their own popular resistance.

In Hebron, Yatta, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, and Beit Surik, In Jerusalem and Bil'in, in Deir Ballut and Zawiya … our struggle against the Wall continues. The people, through its movement, demand a clear international acceptance of this Wall as a political issue, not an issue of charity that can be solved with few dollars of humanitarian assistance! We emphasize that the PA refuse to negotiate on the illegal presence of the Apartheid Wall, and insist on its dismantlement.

On Land Day we declare our will and insistence to protect our land. We do so in the knowledge that the Apartheid Wall is a project to steal Palestinian land. The Wall is the bulldozer and catalyst of the colonial Zionist project in Palestine. It is the bulldozer of Judaization and our expulsion. It is the bulldozer that creates the facts on the ground, making the ghettos which they deem will be a "viable state" for us.

Our people will not be misled! Our experience with the Occupation has been long and bloody enough. We know how the so-called "ceasefire" has always been used by the Occupation Forces for the further colonization of our lands, and construction of illegal settlements. Ghettos cannot substitute for a state, our liberation and our land!

Ghettos are being created on 54% of the West bank, turning our people into prisoners in their own country, locked behind a Wall and gates where the keys are held by the Occupation soldiers. Ghettos are turning our people into slaves in the joint industrial zones being built on our land . Stripped of land and resources the Occupation wants to control and regiment us into their industrial zone slavery systems.

Without the dismantlement of the Wall, without the liberation of our land, without the destruction of settlements, there will be no real independence, no viable state and no dignity. Neither the humanitarian aid missionaries in the UN, nor the funds offered by the World Bank and United States for the industrial zones and hi-tech gates of the Apartheid Wall, can alter our resistance to the imposition of Israeli Apartheid on our lives.

On Land Day, we will make our voice heard:
  • Land is the essence of our struggle, without liberating the land there is no solution for the liberation cause!
  • No sovereignty and no independence can be achieved with settlements on Palestinian land!
  • The United Nations has to respect and implement the ICJ decision to dismantle the Apartheid Wall!
  • No modifications to the Wall's path, no charity assistance - only the dismantlement of the Apartheid wall!
  • We will never accept that our cause be transformed into a humanitarian one!
  • No real settlement can be achieved without all of our rights. Right to Return! Right to Jerusalem. Dismantlement of all settlements!
  • All respect to the people resisting the Apartheid Wall's confiscation and the illegal settlements!
Through popular resistance we confront the Wall, and force the implementation of the ICJ decision to dismantle the Wall.
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