Land Day: Return and Liberation for Palestine #PalestineLandDay

We mark the 46th Palestinian Land Day on 30 March 2022. This day is an occasion to celebrate, intensify and uphold Palestinian resistance to Zionism, colonialism, apartheid and occupation, recalling those whose lives have been stolen in defense of the land and people of Palestine, and to organize and struggle for return and liberation, from the river to the sea. As the Palestinian people continue to rise up and take action in resistance to defend their people and liberate their land, the Day of the Land is not only an anniversary but a day of living struggle to uproot colonialism from Palestine.

A History of Struggle

The Day of the Land began as an annual commemoration of the massive uprising of Palestinians in occupied Palestine ’48 against Zionist land confiscation in 1976, targeting 20,000 dunums of Palestinian land in the Galilee. The Palestinians of ’48 — Palestinian citizens of the Israeli settler colonial apartheid regime, survivors of the Nakba who remained on their land even as 80% of their fellow Palestinians were expelled — rose up en masse to confront ongoing land confiscation and settlement. They launched large-scale protests and a general strike, and on 30 March 1976, six Palestinians were shot dead by the occupation forces as they resisted the expropriation of their land.

On the 46th Land Day, we remember Kheir Mohammad Salim Yasin, Khadija Qasem Shawahneh, Raja Hussein Abu Rayya, Khader Eid Mahmoud Khalayleh, Muhsin Hasan Said Taha and Raafat Ali Al-Zheir and all the martyrs of Palestine who have given their lives and their freedom for the defense of Palestine, its land and its people. This day has become a national anniversary for the Palestinian people as a whole, inside Palestine and in exile, and an Arab and international day of Indigenous solidarity, land defense and collective struggle against imperialism and colonialism and the extraction of wealth and resources from the land of the people.

The Day of the Land represents the centrality of the land itself and its full liberation, from the river to the sea, in the struggle for Palestine. It reflects just how precious the land — and the people who care for it, till it, and work with it — is, and how decades and centuries of colonization have been unable to separate the people from their land, in Palestine and everywhere that people fight to defend their land and resources.

Further, Land Day is a day of Palestinian popular and resistance unity. From occupied Palestine ’48, to Jerusalem and the West Bank, to the Gaza Strip, to the refugee camps and everywhere in exile and diaspora, Palestinians commemorate Land Day not only as a historical occasion but as a symbol of the ongoing, living and vibrant resistance that has remained unbroken despite years of military occupation, land confiscation, mass imprisonment, killings and dispossession. Land Day is a day of struggle for the return of Palestinian refugees and for the liberation of every inch of Palestinian land from colonialism.

In 2018, the Day of the Land once again marked the occasion of a mass outpouring of Palestinians in the streets, as thousands upon thousands gathered in Gaza for the Great March of Return, and occupation forces again shot down Palestinians defending their land and seeking their liberation. 42 years after the first Land Day massacre, Israeli occupation forces killed 16 martyrs of the land and return, with over 200 more shot down in the marches over the months and days to come. Now, Palestinian farmers and fishers in Gaza continue to defend their land under siege, faced with daily attacks and the attempt to starve their resistance economy.

Palestinian Resistance Defends the Land

Today, it is clear that the Palestinian resistance continues to live and thrive, rooted in the land itself. The May 2021 unity uprising — in which Palestinians outside Palestine took to the streets of every global city with fellow movements fighting injustice and imperialism, in which Palestinians in ’48 rose up and claimed their land and cities, in which the resistance in Gaza led the battle of Seif al-Quds, in which the Palestinians of Jerusalem and the West Bank confronted soldiers and settlers everywhere to defend Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Beita, al-Aqsa and all of Palestine — continues to reflect the bright future of resistance and revolution for Palestine and its people.

As we mark Land Day in 2022, Palestinians in the Naqab are defending their land against colonization, as they have for over 74 years. The attack on the Naqab and the Palestinian Bedouin people is being funded and organized by the Jewish National Fund in order to displace and disposess Palestinian Bedouins and seize ever more land for colonization. In countries around the world, the JNF holds “Negev Dinners” to boast of their colonial efforts; many of these dinners and events are attended and celebrated by Western imperialist political leaders, while donations made to further colonialism in the Naqab are tax-deductible. The so-called “Negev Summit,” bringing together the Israeli regime and the most reactionary Arab states, all under the auspices and guidance of U.S. imperialism, once again reiterates this colonial theme and the attempt to use “normalization” to legitimize the theft of Palestinian land.

Nevertheless, the Palestinian people and their resistance have made clear that the JNF’s plans and the “normalization” mandate will never be allowed to succeed. Palestinians continue to resist, defend and seek the liberation of their land by all means necessary, a natural right and a right protected even within the framework of international law. This Palestinian resistance gives hope to all people around the world who resist imperialism and colonialism as a symbol of unbroken will in the face of massive military might as well as a material blow against the forces of occupation.

Poster of the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine

Imprisonment: A Colonial Weapon

In an attempt to crush the Palestinian people’s resistance, criminalization and mass incarceration has always been a colonial tool of the occupier. This colonial weapon is directed against the entire Palestinian people, including Palestinians from occupied Palestine ’48. Approximately 70 of the 4,400 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails were seized from their homes and lands in ’48, from the Naqab to Umm al-Fahm. This form of repression has escalated in the past year, with over 1,000 Palestinians of ’48 detained after the Unity Uprising of May 2021 and ongoing raids and attacks on Palestinian cities, towns and villages. The purpose of these arrests, interrogations and charges is to terrorize Palestinians inside occupied Palestine ’48 and to attempt to impose the “Israeli Arab” identity that has been widely rejected. In addition to traditional imprisonment, Palestinians are subjected to house detention, exclusion from their cities, stripping of access to communication and other forms of political repression, as in the case of Somaya Falah.

Karim Younis, one of the longest-imprisoned Palestinian prisoners, is from Occupied Palestine ’48 as is his cousin Maher; indeed, many Palestinian prisoners imprisoned over 30 years for their role in the Palestinian resistance are from Occupied Palestine ’48: Karim and Maher Younis, Walid Daqqa, Ibrahim Abu Mokh and Ibrahim Bayadseh. They are leaders in the Palestinian prisoners’ movements, those who struggle daily on the front lines and behind bars for the liberation of Palestine, confronting the jailer and representing resistance, unity and anti-colonial struggle.

Defund Racism – Confront Land Confiscation and Settler Colonialism

The Day of the Land is a day when support for Palestinian land defenders, from the river to the sea, is critically important. One campaign that is playing a major role in defending Palestinian land from settlements is the Defund Racism campaign, supported by grassroots Palestinian organizers. Organizations like Ir David/Elad, the Hebron Fund, Ateret Cohanim, the Israel Land Fund, Regavim and others target Palestinian communities for ongoing displacement engineered to confiscate Palestinian land for the development of colonial settlements. The Defund Racism campaign aims to confront the use of “charitable” funds raised by these settler organizations to confiscate Palestinian land and build illegal colonial settlements, supporting Palestinian grassroots resistance by cutting off the flow of funds that enables ongoing colonization.

This day also highlights why it is critical to boycott and isolate the Israeli occupation, including agricultural products grown on stolen and colonized Palestinian land, often through the exploitation of Palestinian labour. As Ramadan dawns, the campaign to boycott “Israeli” dates and support Palestinian farmers instead is particularly urgent. Campaigns like those of Palestine Action in the UK targeting Israeli arms dealers like Elbit Systems for direct action, and despite state repression, arrests and persecution, make clear that people’s resistance can defeat the warmongers of the occupation.

From the River to the Sea, Confronting Imperialism and Zionism

The colonization of Palestine is not carried out by the Israeli regime alone; it is funded and backed by Western imperialist powers, first and foremost, the United States, which provides $3.8 billion in annual military aid to the occupation, bolstered this year by an additional $1 billion in “Iron Dome” funds, aiming to shield colonialism from the resistance of the indigenous Palestinian people. Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Australia continue to provide ongoing military, diplomatic and economic aid to the colonial project, ranging from “free trade” agreements that privilege profiteering from stolen Palestinian land and resources to arms sales and joint training to the use of state repression to target Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organizing.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has declared anti-Zionism an “enemy of the Republic,” ordering the dissolution of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and several more pro-Palestinian, anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations, while continuing to imprison Georges Ibrahim Abdallah for over 37 years. In almost all Western states, Palestinian resistance organizations are designated as “terrorist” and criminalized while those who fund settler-colonial terror against the Palestinian people are celebrated, protected and granted preferential charitable status. The Holy Land Foundation Five are imprisoned with sentences of up to 65 years in high-security U.S. prisons for doing nothing more than raising charitable funds for Palestine, while the “Friends of the IDF” are permitted to raise funds for an occupation army.

Imperialism and Zionism also rely on Arab reactionary regimes and the program of normalization not only to grant false legitimacy to the colonization of Palestine but to attack and target Arab peoples and states that resist the dictates of imperial rule. In Yemen, thousands come to the street regularly to march for Palestine even as they face the bombs and siege imposed by reactionary Arab regimes, at the behest of and with weaponry provided by the Western powers, including the U.S. and Canada.

The Oslo Accords and their annexes and the entire so-called “peace process” were meant to wipe out the legacy and ongoing reality expressed on the Day of the Land, to replace Palestinian unity and resistance from the river to the sea with a limited claim to only a portion of Palestine, overseen by the “security coordination” subcontractors to the occupation, the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority continues to detain and arrest Palestinians in a “revolving door” with the Israeli occupation, criminalize and condemn Palestinian resistance, while the Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine work to develop their true unity in struggle, for return and liberation. The purpose of the Palestinian Authority is to undermine, rather than represent, the defense of the land and people of Palestine.

While the Palestinian struggle to defend land and seek full liberation is met with harsh repression, criminalization, assassination and imprisonment at the hands of the occupation and its backers and allies, it is also met with unified struggle, solidarity and collective support by the regional and global camp of resistance, nations, peoples and popular movements confronting imperialism, capitalism and exploitation, from Yemen to Iraq, from Brazil to the Philippines, from Zimbabwe to Wet’suwet’sen.

On Land Day, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network honours and celebrates the struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate their land from the river to the sea and to resist all forms of colonization. Land Day marks the unity of the Palestinian land, people, and cause, everywhere inside and outside Palestine, for defending and liberating the land and people of Palestine.

April 17 is Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, a national and international day of action for the freedom of all Palestinian political prisoners, the prisoners of freedom, the prisoners of return and liberation. We urge all to organize and mobilize for 17 April and the week that follows, to liberate Palestinian prisoners. free the land and people of Palestine from the river to the sea, and confront imperialism and Zionism.

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