Israel is pushing Arab Israelis out of their ancestral cities, MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) said Saturday during a Land Day march in Jaffa.

“For the second time, Israel has declared war against the very existence of Arab Israelis in their historic cities, especially in Jaffa,” Army Radio quoted the Nazareth-native MK as saying during the demonstrations, referencing the government’s 1976 decision to expropriate Arab lands for security and settlement.

That decision sparked rallies across the country, in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Palestinian camps in Lebanon that turned deadly and became the catalyst for the annual Land Day commemoration.

Hundreds of protesters participated in the Jaffa march, both Arab and Jewish. Many held signs that read “Jaffa is in Danger.” Supporters arrived from cities and towns across the country to show solidarity with the continuing Land Day demonstrations.

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who spoke with Israel Radio during the latter half of the march, explained that while land expropriation is the issue, equality between Jewish and Arab Israelis is the message of Land Day.

The United Arab List MK rejected the notion that Land Day is a rejection of the right of Jewish Israelis to live in Israel.

“We are opposed to bringing people from outside [the] Jaffa [community] in order to settle in Jaffa,” Tibi explained, noting that Jews and Arabs do live peacefully in the historic port city.

“Jews should not be living at the expense of Arab [Israelis],” Tibi said. “Land is the issue, but equality is the message.”

Mohammad Zeidan, the president of the High Follow- Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, told Israel Radio’s Arabic-language channel he did not expect any run-ins with the police during the demonstration.

Zeidan said he contacted police prior to the Jaffa march, asking them not to interfere with the event, or prevent participants from “fueling discussion.” Police responded that they were prepared to respond to any emergency.

MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al) also participated in the Jaffa march, alongside members of the local branch of the Islamic Front, according to Israel Radio.

On Friday, Palestinians marking the 36th commemoration of Land Day confronted security forces at the Kalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem, and near Beit Hanun (Erez) in Gaza. One person was reportedly shot dead by IDF troops in Gaza, and hundreds were injured during clashes with Israeli security personnel both at the Kalandiya checkpoint and near the Gaza border.

Other demonstrations for Land Day occurred Friday in the Galilee towns of Kafr Kana and Deir Hana, and at Wadi El Naam in the Negev, according to the report, but were peaceful.

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