Thousands in Israel call for end to Gaza war on Palestinian Land Day

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Thousands in Israel call for end to Gaza war on Palestinian Land Day

Thousands in Israel call for end to Gaza war on Palestinian Land Day

Deir Hanna (Israel) (AFP) – Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel rallied Friday for an end to the Gaza war as they marked Land Day, an annual commemoration of a deadly 1976 crackdown on protests against Israeli land seizures

The protesters, led by Arab members of the Israeli parliament, marched through the northern town of Deir Hanna waving Palestinian flags and carrying banners reading: "Stop the war on Gaza".

Most of the demonstrators were Arab citizens of Israel -- Palestinians who evaded displacement during the 1948 war that led to Israel's creation and who, with their descendants, now constitute around 21 percent of its population.

A smaller contingent of Jewish Israelis joined the rally, some carrying signs reading: "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies".

Land Day commemorates protests and a strike on March 30, 1976, against a decision by the Israeli authorities to seize large swathes of land in the northern Galilee region.

Israeli police fired at demonstrators, killing six people, and the government plan was subsequently dropped.

"On this day 48 years ago, our people thwarted the project to confiscate our lands with their protests... and they embodied an important and prominent milestone in history," Deir Hanna town council chief Saeed Hussein said in a speech in its main square.

"48 years have passed, yet the machine of death and displacement persists... the attempt to erase our national identity and seize our lands continues."

Israel's Arab citizens suffer higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and crime than Jewish Israelis.

Community leader and former lawmaker Mohammed Barakeh said Israeli Arabs were still facing "displacement and repression".

"This flesh that burns in Gaza is ours and the women murdered in Gaza are our sisters," he said, denouncing what he described as a "genocide" in the Palestinian territory.

Since war broke out nearly six months ago, Israel's Arab citizens say they have experienced growing hostility from the government and from other Israelis.

The war began with Hamas's October 7 attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,705 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

Eyal, a 33-year-old Jewish Israeli activist, said he joined the rally in solidarity with Arabs.

"We demand an end to the massacres by the Israeli government in Gaza and an end to the war on Gaza," he said, asking to be identified by his first name only.

© 2024 AFP

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