What happened during Land Day in 1976?
March 30th is “Land Day”, commemorated by Palestinian and Israeli Arabs. In 1976, the first Land Day was a protest over confiscation of Arab land for Jewish settlements in northern Israel. Demonstrations, accompanied by a general strike of the Arab sector, erupted into violent clashes with police with six Arab fatalities.
What actually happened in 1976 has been distorted as the annual event has become an instrument of propaganda. On March 11, 1976, the Israeli government published a plan to expropriate approximately 21,000 dunams (5,250 acres) of land in the Galilee. Only 31 percent of the land in question, or less than one-third, was Arab-owned, some of which was to be used to expand the Arab village of Majar near Acre and to build public buildings in Arab towns. This action by Israel was no different than the eminent domain process thatis regularly used in the United States or other countries to acquire land for public projects. Nevertheless, the most prominent political party in the Arab sector at the time, Rakah (The New Communist List), cynically decided to seize upon the decision and called a general strike for March 30. Riots broke out the night before - in which soldiers and police were attacked with stones and firebombs - and continued the following day, resulting in the deaths of six Israeli Arabs. Though the media portrays Land Day as a day when Israeli Arabs peacefully vented their frustrations, Land Day was in fact born in violence, the product of the machinations of a political party that proudly waved the dubious banner of Marxism-Leninism. Since 1976 the date has become an annual event for Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who have turned Land Day into a general protest against what they claim are discriminatory practices by the Israeli government. Land Day has often been marked by angry demonstrations and country-wide violence. Land Day demonstrations are also the focus of open support for Hamas and Hizbullah, showing of flags from Syria and other Arab countries, and denunciations of the Israeli Prime Minister and the government's policies toward the Palestinians.