Palestinians rally to mark Land Day!

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PALESTINIANS rallied across the West Bank and in Gaza on Saturday to commemorate Land Day.

March 30 is commemorated every year because of a deadly incident on that day in 1976 in which Israeli troops killed six Palestinians during a protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands.

The biggest rally on Land Day takes place in the West Bank town of Sakhnin.

In remembrance, Palestinians plant trees on land Israel threatened to expropriate in 1976 to reaffirm their ties to the land.

Arab member of the Israeli Knesset Haneen Zoabi said Tel-Aviv will continue to usurp Palestinian lands as Israeli forces attacked Palestinian demonstrators on the 37th anniversary of Land Day.

Zoabi, who represents the Balad party in the Knesset (parliament), also stated that Israeli regime ‘expropriated 86 per cent of the Arab’s land, who now live on three per cent of their land.’

‘They take what we have, and try to get rid of us and then push us into a small piece of land.

Colonialism? – even worse,’ she added.

The Arab member of Knesset went on to say that ‘Tel Aviv will continue to force out nearly 30,000 Palestinians from their villages in Naqab desert in a bid to usurp 200 acres of their lands.’

The Knesset member made the remarks hours after Israeli forces attacked Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, injuring dozens of protesters.

Clashes broke out in the village of Jayyus after Israeli troops fired teargas canisters at hundreds of Palestinians who wanted to plant trees in agricultural lands in commemoration of Land Day.

Several people were injured in the attack.

Similar scuffles erupted at Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters after Palestinian protesters started to burn tyres near the checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and pictures of Palestinian prisoners, one of whom, Samer Issawi, is currently in hospital due to his deteriorating health conditions after having been on hunger strike since August 2012 in protest for his release.

The guard at the Qalandia checkpoint, beefed up the day before Land Day, met the protesters with tear gas grenades.

Several protesters were also wounded in the incident.

Palestinian activists also marched on the Israeli apartheid barrier.

Israeli forces on Saturday detained a Palestinian during a rally in Jerusalem’s Old City, witnesses said.

Israeli forces suppressed the demonstration in Salah al-Din street and detained Shadi al-Moghrabi, witnesses said, adding that al-Mograbi was assaulted during the arrest.

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a child and his father in Al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem, during confrontations with inhabitants on the occasion of Land Day.

Local witnesses said that IOF soldiers fired teargas and rubber-coated bullets at the demonstrators south of the village on Sunday evening causing breathing difficulty among many of them.

The witnesses said that the soldiers arrested the 11-year-old child Saleh Mousa after breaking into his family home and searching it.

They said that the soldiers detained his father with him when he tried to inquire about his son.

The IDF wrote on Twitter that Palestinian protesters threw stones at Israeli vehicles traveling on south-north Route 60, which passes through the West Bank; a 5-year-old boy was reportedly injured as a result. The IDF said that it is searching the area for suspects.

Troops patrolling the border between Israel and the Gaza strip used live fire to disperse protesters who came close to the fence, but a hospital in Gaza said nobody was hurt.

The Israeli government doesn’t believe in peace or the right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state, said Mustafa Barghouti, from the Palestinian Legislative Council.

He said: ‘Through settlement activities, they are almost killing the last opportunity for peace based on the two state solution in the longest occupation in modern history.’

During the 2012 Land Day protests one person was killed and more than two dozen others were wounded after Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators in the northern Gaza Strip.

On the same day in the West Bank, Israeli forces beat up a crowd of peaceful demonstrators in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and arrested a number of protesters.

Israeli police also fired rubber bullets, and teargas, and used stun grenades to disperse the protesters.

• Eight Palestinian school pupils were injured when Jewish settlers attacked their school buses on their return from a trip near Nablus city on Sunday evening.

Ghassan Daghlas, an activist monitoring settlement activity north of the West Bank, said that a group of settlers ambushed two school buses near Yitzhar crossing, south of Nablus.

He said that the settlers threw rocks at the buses injuring eight of the girls, explaining that some of them were directly hit with the stones while others were injured by the flying glass.

He said that the other girls were panicked and were all taken to nearby Hawara town for treatment.

Daghlas said that the buses, returning on a trip from Ramallah, were badly damaged in the attack.

Jewish settlers attacked a number of Jerusalemite families in Hush Al-Shawish in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem on Sunday evening triggering confrontations between the two parties.

Locals said that the settlers provoked the families into arguments that developed later on to fistfights and squabbles.

They said that Israeli occupation forces arrived to the scene and rounded up five Jerusalemites including a young woman and a youth and his father.

Israeli settlers have established fish farming ponds in Ain Rabii south of the city of Nablus, expanding their settlement activities in that area, a Palestinian centre revealed on Sunday.

Mahmoud al-Sifi, director of Nablus Land Research Center, stated that settlers from Bracha settlement, established on lands belonging to Burin village south of Nablus, have recently begun building fish farming ponds in Ein Mkhna area in Kafr Kalil and Burin villages.

The activist against settlement projects confirmed that according to eyewitnesses the Israeli settlers have established fish farming ponds and a swimming pool at the expense of the residents’ lands.

Al-Sifi warned of the acceleration of settlement projects in that area to reach a group of Palestinian houses owned by the Kurdi family, especially in light of the continued settlers’ attempt to confiscate the land.

He pointed to the confiscation of Palestinian properties and lands by Israeli settlers more than once in several Palestinian villages including Kafr Kalil, Burin, and Hawara.

He warned of the seriousness of the settlers’ escalated steps carried out at the southern gate of Nablus, including stealing ancient and historical Arab stones as a prelude to turn the place into a Jewish synagogue.