Land Day passes with no clashes, defense establishment on high alert

Land Day commemorates the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in Galilee on March 30th, 1976.

A Land Day rally is held, March 30 (photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
A Land Day rally is held, March 30
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)

Thousands of Palestinians participated in events in the Galilee, West Bank and Gaza Strip commemorating Land Day on Wednesday, but there were no clashes with IDF troops, despite concern that violent riots could erupt following a spate of deadly terror attacks in Israel.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF said that it had beefed up troops along the Gaza border and in the West Bank ahead of Land Day.

The military sent reinforcements to the Gaza Division including additional infantry troops and special forces with advanced technology to deter violent protests along the fence.

The IDF said that the troops were deployed to the southern front according to plans prepared for the month of Ramadan.

Land Day commemorates the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in Galilee on March 30, 1976. Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed and hundreds were wounded and arrested in the ensuing riots and confrontations with the IDF and police.

 Israel Police set up a checkpoint on a highway after a deadly terrorist attack in Hadera, March 28, 2022 (credit: ISRAEL POLICE) Israel Police set up a checkpoint on a highway after a deadly terrorist attack in Hadera, March 28, 2022 (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

While Gazans have regularly held violent demonstrations along the border fence, this year Land Day was commemorated in the Gaza Port in an attempt to reduce the possibility of riots near the fence.

Nevertheless, there had been concern that Gazans would approach the fence and clash with troops.

In September, Border Police sniper St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli was shot in the head and killed at point-blank range by a Hamas operative, during a violent riot in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

His death led to harsh criticism of the military and government, with some claiming that it had imposed restrictions on troops along the border.

The worry over violence comes despite moves by Israel to reduce tensions ahead of Ramadan that begins on Saturday, including the approval of 20,000 work permits for Gazans.

The IDF has also reinforced forces in the West Bank with 12 battalions, though they will be mainly protecting the seam line and areas close to the separation fence.

Demonstrations are also expected to take place on Thursday in the West Bank and Galilee, where the main event for the day is scheduled in Sakhnin. From there, demonstrators will march to Arrabe and Deir Hanna for a large rally.

In a provocative move, extreme right-wing legislator Itamar Ben-Gvir said that he intends to visit the Temple Mount Compound on Thursday.

Last month he set up a makeshift office in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem. Clashes in Jerusalem between Palestinians and police, both in Sheikh Jarrah and on the Temple Mount, led to 11 days of war with Gaza in May after Hamas fired seven rockets on the capital.

In a statement welcoming the attack in Bnei Brak, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that “Hamarsha’s operation has redrawn the map of the homeland, revived the spirit of holding tight to this blessed land, and directed a message that the future is drawn by the legitimate indigenous owners of Palestine, not the occupiers, normalizers or collaborators.”

Referring to the conflict in May, Haniyeh said that Palestinians will continue to resist Israel.

“It is the legitimate, valiant and moral resistance to end the occupation from our land and sanctuaries, free our detainees, and return to our homes from which we were displaced.”