West Bank villages mark Land Day
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West Bank villages mark Land Day

Protests along the Wall this Friday have marked Land Day, the commemoration of the killing of six Palestinians in 1976 by Israeli forces during protests against large scale land confiscation in the Galilee. This year the calls insisted on the need for continued resistance and unity – not only between the political factions but as well between the Palestinian people in the ’67 occupied territories, inside the Green Line and in the diaspora.

In Bil’in, three villagers have been injured and dozens suffered respiratory problems caused by tear gas as they headed towards the Wall that bars them from their land. Behind the Wall, the Israeli occupation forces had created a human barrier of soldiers to prevent demonstrators from entering the land and a large number of soldiers were deployed along the route of the wall where a truck equipped with devices to spray skunk water on the protesters was stationed. When protesters tried to cross towards the soldiers, the army fired sound bombs, rubber coated metal bullets, tear gas and skunk water. Ahmad Yassin (34 years), Rani Abdul Fattah Bernat (29 years), and Kamal Khatib (19 years) were injured while several cases had to be treated locally for severe vomiting and choking.

The popular committee stressed “the unity of our Palestinian land and the unity of the Palestinian people at home and abroad” and appealed to “all national and Islamic forces, Palestinian bodies and institutions interested in defending Palestinian land, and the future of our people and their national rights, to unite their efforts and energies in order to protect the Palestinian land and save it from the occupation, the settlements and the Wall”.

In al Ma’sara, the protestors faced similar repression. Once the crowd reached the area of the Wall, clashes erupted between the people aiming to reach their land and the occupation army. Not satisfied to have dispersed the protest, the military followed the people into the village shooting tear gas in the streets and wounding 14-year old Ahmad Bassam with a tear gas canister that hit his leg. The popular committee used this year’s Land Day protests to underline that “We will remain constant on our path towards the end of the occupation and the removal of the Apartheid Wall and in pursuit of our freedom.”

In Ni’lin, dozens were wounded suffering from suffocation after the military repressed the march of the villagers against the Wall and the settlements. When Israeli soldiers started firing tear gas, the youth responded with volleys of stones to assert their right to resist.