32nd anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day protests, and the accompanying Israeli massacre

The first Land Day protests were held on March 30, 1976. Israel’s Ministry of Finance confiscated 5000 acres of Palestinian land between the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin and Arraba in the Galilee in northern Israel. Construction of eight Jewish industrial villages was planned on the seized land. On March 30, 1976, Palestinian towns from the Negev to the Galilee launched a day of nonviolent protests and strikes in solidarity with Sakhnin and Arraba. Six Palestinian civilians were killed and over 100 Palestinians injured by the Israeli military and police as they violently repressed the protests. Palestinians have held Land Day protests every year since 1976, on and around March 30th. 

Land Day: 1976

Saleh Taha: On the morning of March 30, 1976 the whole village, including farmers, workers, youth, students and others, began a strike to express solidarity in defending their land. 

Qassem Sahawhneh: In the morning hours of March 30, 1976, I was in my house when I heard someone announcing a curfew on a loudspeaker.  So I told my family that we needed to stay in the house. 

Mu’een Khatib: At roughly 6:00 AM on March 30, 1976, I woke up to noise and screaming in our house.  Soldiers took me out of my bed and ordered me to go with them outside. Someone grabbed me from my penis and dragged me to the car.

Samia Tawfiq: My son ‘Arif was standing next to the road, and an army squad came and took him.  When I heard them, I went outside to see what was happening to my son.  I saw around five soldiers beating my son (he is 16 years old).

Abed Khalayleh: In the morning of March 30, 1976, I was drinking coffee with my son Khadr on the balcony of our house in Sakhnin, when we heard someone announcing a curfew on a loudspeaker.  Suddenly we saw a group of soldiers near our house.

Qassem Sahawhneh: Around 7:30 we heard screaming outside.  One of the children, Khalid, who is 9 years old, ran in the direction of the screaming.  Then my wife asked our deceased daughter Khadijah to go bring her brother back into the house. 

Samia Tawfiq: On the streets there were kids no more than 7 or 8 years old.  The soldiers started chasing them and throwing tear gas at them.

Abed Khalayleh: Around 7:30, the teacher Amneh ‘Ammar went to school.  She ran into a group of soldiers.  They ordered her to go back into her house, and as soon as she turned her back, they shot and wounded her. 

Qassem Sahawhneh: And then my wife followed Khadijah to see what was happening when they ran into some soldiers.  One of the soldiers ordered them to go back into the house, so Khadijah and my wife went back into the house.  When she turned around, the soldiers shot her in the back.  A bomb exploded in the street about 50 meters from the house.  Khadijah was martyred when she was 23 years old.

Abed Khalayleh: After that there was a big commotion, and we heard someone saying that Amneh was killed and others saying that she was wounded.  I went down to Khadr and others to help her and take her to the hospital. 

Samia Tawfiq: And when I tried to save him from them, they started beating me and cursing at me.  I went back into the house, and after a short while, APCs came filled with soldiers.

Abed Khalayleh: Khadr got there before me, and while he was trying to help Amneh, the soldiers shot him.  Someone else was shot as well, Sayyid Khalaylah, when he was trying to help the wounded.  Khadr was hit in his head and his arm and he died on the spot. 

Saleh Taha: The strike organizers were working to keep the strike peaceful and not to respond to the provocations of the authorities, including the police and border patrol, who were trying to provoke the youngsters by cursing and spitting at them and insulting their religion. 

Mu’een Khatib: Then they took us to a barn outside our village, while continuing to beat us.  They shoved me over to a small tree and I ran away.  They ran after me while shooting at me, and I heard one of them say in Hebrew, “I hit him and he is going to die like the others; leave him.”

Subhi Hudhud: I was arrested Tuesday morning, March 30, 1976, inside the mosque, when they pointed a gun at me and took me to a car and began beating me with sticks. 

Saleh Taha: The border patrol assaulted the women and the youngsters by hitting them with sticks and throwing tear gas at them.  They attacked the village from the west and the east; they stormed the houses, broke doors and beat anyone they found inside the houses.  The assaults by the authorities led to the killing of one of the villages, the martyr Muhsin Taha, and the wounding of others.  It continued until 1:00 in the afternoon.  It took place in the presence of an Israeli colonel and other high ranking officers. 

Samia Tawfiq: They stormed our house and found my two young boys, one who is 12 years old and the other who is two years old, and began destroying the furniture in the house.  They broke the closet, two windows, a stove, a radio, plates, and other things around the house.  They beat my twelve year old son and threatened my little one to scare him.

Ibrahim Yassin (63 years old): The policemen and army broke into my house, and started beating us.  I dashed to protect my daughter Fatima, when the policeman in my house beat me and dragged my daughter Fatima outside to the hall. They put her down, stepped on her and broke two teeth of hers. They also beat my other daughter (Miriam), then they took me to the carpentry and beat me and arrested me.

Mohammad Abu Yunis: I was in my house in Sakhnin on the morning of March 30, 1976 when I heard shooting.  I went near the main road in town to get my children, who were playing next to the road.  Then I felt two bullets hit my left leg.

Saleem Khalifeh: Around 8:00 in the morning on March 30, 1976, I was listening to the radio on my balcony.  Suddenly, my brother Na’im Muhammad Khalifah, who was standing next to me, was wounded.  The injury was in his abdomen.  My brother was around 11 years old.

Mohammad Badarneh: At 10:00 in the morning, March 30, 1976, I was in my house in Sakhnin.  I saw my cousin who lives next to me; he was wounded.  I ran to help him and carried him toward the car to take him to the hospital.  While I was carrying him, the soldiers shot at me from about 10-15 meters away and hit me in my leg.  It caused a severe injury.

Ali Dgheim: Around 9:00 in the morning of March 30, 1976, I was in the electronics store in Sakhnin that belonged to my brother.  The Israeli soldiers were flooding into the village and shooting heavily everywhere.  I said two men, Subhi Muhammad Badarneh and Muhammad Deeb Badarneh, who were wounded next to my brother’s store, so I ran to help them.  While I was trying to carry one of the wounded, the soldiers shot at me from about 10-15 meters away. 

Saleh Taha: When the provocations didn’t stop but instead escalated, the whole village protested, young and old alike.  The police responded by shooting at the student at the village Northern School and wounding one of the villagers.  The shooting continued, as did the protest.

Abdel Qader Taher: The authorities began widespread arrests in the middle of the night of March 31, 1976.  They raided my home . . . they destroyed things in the house, frightened my children and hit my wife.  They pointed their weapons at the chests of my children

Subhi Hudhud: They took me with others to the Kfar Saba police station and they crammed a large number of us in a small room.  During my interrogation, they beat me with sticks and chairs and forced me to sign a confession.

Abdel Qader Taher: In the Kfar Saba station they locked us in a room that looked like a cell and continued to beat us, while they were hysterically yelling that we should have been arrested as children so that they wouldn’t have to dirty their hands with us as adults.  They called us filthy communists, saboteurs and bastards.

Read the rest of this memorial here:



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