Amnesty International fears that Israeli forces could violently oppress Palestinian "Land Day" protests on Sunday 30 March and is calling the Israeli authorities to refrain from using unnecessary force.
According to Amnesty, amid plans demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, the often lethal enforcement of military zones in Gaza, and forced evictions of Bedouin in the Negev ‘Land Day’ demonstrations will protest ongoing policies as well as commemorate historical events.
"Israeli forces must not resort to unnecessary or excessive force as they so often have done in the past,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
“Israel’s authorities have failed to respect the right of Palestinians to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Amnesty International’s researchers will be monitoring events on Sunday closely to examine whether the rights of demonstrators are respected,” said Luther.
Amnesty International says that it has documented a pattern of increasingly lethal use of unlawful force by Israeli forces in recent years. In a report published last month, the organization claims that Israel is using excessive force in the West Bank and that Israeli forces routinely resort to unnecessary, arbitrary and excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators in the occupied West Bank protesting against unlawful settlements, the construction of the military fence and other Israeli policies.
The organization claims that dozens of Palestinian protesters, who allegedly posed no direct threat to life, including children, have been killed there in recent years with near total impunity and that protesters near the Gaza periphery have also been injured after being shot with live ammunition or hit with tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces.
Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to ensure that all forces policing demonstrations receive clear instructions that comply with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms.
This requires that the use of any force by police should be strictly limited to those situations where it is absolutely necessary and strictly proportional to the legitimate aim pursued. Security forces must ensure that their members are clearly identifiable. There have been concerns in the past about undercover plain-clothes officers being involved in incidents of use of excessive force against Palestinian demonstrators.
In 1976 general strike and demonstrations were organized in Arab towns from North to South in response to the Israeli government's plan to expropriate thousands of acres of land for security and settlement purposes.
The night before the planned protests, in a last attempt to stop the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur’an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee.
The curfew didn't affect the decision to protest and the citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations.
In the confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six unarmed Arab citizens were killed, about one hundred people were wounded, and hundreds were arrested. The infamous day is known as "Land Day" and is an annual day for Palestinians to commemorate the events of that day in 1976. Throughout the years "Land Day" has
become a commemoration day not only for the Palestinians in Israel but also in the Arab world in general.