Thousands of residents and university students marched on Wednesday Marking March 30, the Palestinian Land day, and chanted slogans against the illegal Israeli policies of land theft, and the ongoing attempts to remove the Arab residents from their lands in the Negev, and in different parts of Palestine. Sheikh Siyah Al Toury, head of the Popular Committee to Defend Al Araqeeb town in the Negev, stated that the Israeli Authorities demolished Al Araqeeb village 21 times, adding that its residents will remain steadfast even if Israel destroys their village a thousand times.
Al Toury thanked the Arab legislators and Knesset members for standing in support of the residents of Al Araqeeb â€śdespite being battled at the Knesset by members of one of the most racist parliaments in the history of Israelâ€ť.
Arab Legislator, Talab El Sane’, addressed the protestors and saluted their steadfastness despite of the repeated violations and aggression against them.
Ramiz Jaraysy, head of the Regional Committee of Local Councils, spoke of the history of March 30, 1976, and the sacrifices made on that day to prevent Israel from annexing more Arab lands to build Jewish-only areas.
Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, and sheikh Hammad Abu Daabis, said that the Arabs will remain steadfast and will struggle against illegal land confiscation in Al Araqeeb, Lod, Jaffa and other Arab cities and towns.
Member of Knesset, Dov Khenin, and the head of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Ibrahim Al Waqeely, also addressed the marchers saluting the steadfastness of the residents, and slamming the ongoing Israeli violations against them.
Dr. Amer Al Hazeel, acting Mayor of Rahat city, spoke about the so-called â€śGoldberg Planâ€ť that aims at annexing most of the lands in the Negev by concentrating the Arab population in small isolated areas so that Israel can annex the lands.
Legislator Jamal Zahalka, saluted the Arab revolutions and stated that it is essential to support the revolutions and changes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria and every part of the Arab world, adding that the most important lesson in these revolutions is the transition from anger and tension into an active political moves on the ground.
Zahalka added that the youth in Rahat, Ar’ara, the Negev, Shqeib Al Salaam and other areas are angry and reject the ongoing deportation practiced against them, the ongoing destruction of their homes and the theft of their lands.
â€śBut this is not enough, and is meaningless if not translated into political actions, organized protests and struggleâ€ť, Zahalka said, â€śThere should have been dozens of thousands protesting against this huge conspiracy, protesting to protect our homes and lands, especially in the Negev, we need to work together and transform this anger into political resistance against annexation, racism and discriminationâ€ť.
The Arab legislator also stated that the Arab revolutions of the youth against are revolutions against oppression and injustice, revolutions for real change.
â€śUntil this day, we still face the repercussions of the war in 1948, the Nakba when Israeli tanks and weapons took our lands, and stole %75 of the lands of those who remained in their homes in the Galilee, the Negev and Al Muthallath, and now, they are trying to take away what is left of our lands in the Negev… they are pouring salt on our open woundsâ€ť.
Dr. Zahalka concluded by stating that on Land Day, the Arabs in Al Araqeeb and the Negev are sending a message of steadfastness and determination.
On March 30, the Palestinian people scattered across the globe mark Land Day, commemorating the events of 35 years ago, when Israeli security forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel and wounded more than a hundred.
Since that day, those who became a Palestinian and Arab minority in what became Israel, the Palestinians in the occupied territories and around the world, have been marking March 30 as the Palestinian Land Day, a day of protests against the Israeli discrimination policies towards the Arabs and Palestinians in all of historic Palestine.
Yawm Al Ard (Land Day) became the symbol of steadfastness, and a day marked every year to protest Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Arabs in the country, and against their lands.