Middle East

Arab Israelis, Palestinians rally to mark Land Day

A dove painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag is released towards the Israeli border fence as protesters wave flags as they mark Land Day close to the border fence with Israel on March 30, 2014, in the Gaza Strip. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED

ARRABA, Israel: Palestinians and Arab Israelis were on Sunday commemorating Land Day with rallies remembering six of their number who were shot dead during a 1976 demonstration against land seizure.

In the northern Israeli town of Arraba, more than a thousand people turned out for the main demonstration, many waving Palestinian flags, an AFP correspondent said.

A smaller gathering was also taking place in an unrecognised Bedouin village called Sawawil in the southern Negev desert.

The annual Land Day demonstrations are held to remember six Arab Israeli protesters who were shot dead by Israeli police and troops during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

In annexed east Jerusalem, some 70 demonstrators gathered outside the walls of the Old City by Damascus Gate, throwing stones and chanting slogans, a police spokeswoman told AFP, adding that the rally was quickly broken up and one person arrested.

There were also several gatherings in the Gaza Strip, with scores of people attending a demonstration near the northern town of Jabaliya organised by the ruling Hamas movement.

Among the crowd were youngsters wearing green baseball caps and makeshift tunics fashioned out of the Palestinian flag. Chanting slogans, they held up banners reading: "We will return to our land, no matter how long it takes."

A second demonstration near the southern city of Khan Yunis drew similar numbers, among them dozens of children holding balloons bearing the Palestinian flag or scrawled with the word "Gaza".

Scattered demonstrations and sit-ins also took place in the West Bank, including in the southern city of Hebron where foreign peace activists also attended.





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