PALESTINIANS are commemorating Land Day, the 35th anniversary of the uprising against Israel’s land theft, in which six young protesters were killed by Israeli forces.
However, confiscation of land and settlements are proceeding at a frantic pace.
Israel’s ‘separation wall’ has confiscated around 733 square kilometres of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. Israel says the wall was built to prevent attacks, but its route runs deep inside the West Bank, often as far as 22 kilometres, according to the UN. Land between the wall and the Green Line has been used for illegal Israeli settlements and military bases.
In 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying power to transfer its population into territory it occupies.
While US President Barack Obama says Israeli settlement building is an obstacle to peace, his administration recently vetoed a UN resolution condemning settlement construction.
Historically, more Jewish-only housing has been built on occupied Palestinian land during peace negotiations than in any other time. Currently in Occupied East Jerusalem evictions of Palestinians are taking place and new settlements being established.
It is in the face of this critical situation that Palestinian youth in their thousands began a mass campaign on March 15th of rallies, hunger strikes and a call for a march on occupied Jerusalem in order to put an end to the Fatah-Hamas conflict and unite the forces of the Palestinian revolution.
Now Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons have joined their struggle. They announced last Tuesday that they have joined the March 15 youth hunger strike to demand an end to the national division.
Thirty detainees in Israel’s Jalbou’a, Ramon, Nafha and Beersheba prisons said they would remain on hunger strike until Palestinian reconciliation was achieved.
The prisoners launched the strike in solidarity with the March 15 youth to demand an end to the division between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas-run government in Gaza.
The March 15 movement demands there be elections to the Palestinian National Council with all Palestinians to have a vote – including those inside Israel and in the diaspora – and for a genuine national unity government to be established.
Youth hunger strikers in Ramallah praised the prisoners for joining the strike, and said it showed that all Palestinians wanted national unity.
They said: ‘This is a sign that our demands are the demands of every Palestinian. All respect to the prisoners who already live in bad circumstances yet they still react to the movements in the Palestinian street.’
The youth and the prisoners are calling on the West Bank and Gaza governments to stop underestimating the people, and to respect Palestinians’ wishes and meet the movement’s demands.
In the wake of the March 15 protest movement, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya invited President Mahmud Abbas to the Gaza Strip for emergency talks. A date has yet to be set for the president’s visit.
At the same time a Facebook page called ‘Third Palestinian Intifada’ has been opened and has had the online support of 330,000, defying all of the Israeli demands that it be shut down.
It is clear that the revolution that erupted in Tunisia and has swept through North Africa and the Gulf is now erupting in Palestine. The new revolutionary generation have been hailed as heroes by prisoners such as the Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghouthi.
This is the generation that will reunite the Palestinian masses to launch the Third Intifada to establish and sustain the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, all settlements ended, and with refugees having the right to return. This generation must have the complete active support of the workers of the world.