Participants waved black flags and Palestinian flags and called, "Barak, Barak, defense minister, how many children have you killed today?"
Mosques throughout the northern city called on worshippers to participate in the rally and churches rang bells of mourning for the deaths of six activists who died protesting the confiscation of their lands in 1976.
'Land Day' is usually rife with tension and aggravation among the Arab sector, whose leaders claim the government exercises racist land policies seeking to shirk the minority of its property.
"Land Day has long ceased to be a day of ashes – it expresses the battle for existence and life," Hadash Chairman MK Mohammad Barakeh told Ynet.
"After they took and are still taking our lands, the current government also wants to take our IDs," he added.
Chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Mohammad Zeidan told Ynet that policies had not changed since 1976.
"Today we are also dealing with the razing of homes and confiscation of land," he said. "We witness it in the Negev, in the center, and in the Galilee."
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) stressed that land was still the prime source of dispute between the government and the Arab sector.
"The general atmosphere, the feeling of despoilment, and the master-slave attitude towards the Arab citizen existed in '76 and still exist profusely today. In the past there was regional dialogue and more elements of apathy. Then there were a few scattered racists in the street, whereas today they are deputy prime ministers and ministers," he said.
On way to ceremony (Photo: Sahy Vaknin)
'Israel used democracy to take land'
'Land Day' ceremonies took place worldwide in recent days. On Monday Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka returned from one such rally in Paris.
"I said there and I say today that Israel used democracy in order to rob us of our lands," he said. "Israel is a school for land confiscation, and since '76 it has only gotten worse. The bond between a man and land taken away from him never goes away, and we will continue to demand the land taken from us."
After speaking Saturday in Qalqilya, Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad spoke before 200 protestors who gathered in Karawat Beni Hassan in the West Bank.
The villagers are attempting to work the land there but complain of being denied entry by the IDF and settlers. Fayyad called for an end to occupation and objected to the prevention of access to agricultural fields.
Another protest took place in Budrus village, west of Ramallah, where protestors say 300 people were dispersed by the IDF. Three of them were reportedly injured because they tried to plant olive trees where the separation fence is being constructed.
The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee has planned another rally for the evening, to take place in the Negev.
Shmulik Grossman contributed to this report