Thousands of people, including Knesset members and left-wing activists, gathered in Israel-Arab towns on Wednesday to mark the 35th annual Land Day, in which the Arab sector traditionally protests the "expropriation" of lands by the state.
As part of the protests, the entire Arab sector went on strike for the day.
Demonstrators in the northern Galilee Arab-Israeli town of Arabeh and in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Arakib in the Negev called out against home demolitions and the "expulsion of Arabs from their lands."
Palestinian flags during Arabeh rally (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
"We are continuing with our struggle against home demolitions and racist legislation directed against the Arab population," said MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash), who demonstrated in Arabeh.
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) said during the rally in Al-Arakib that "we must continue with the struggle until the demolition orders (for homes in the Bedouin village) are annulled and an education system fitting of a country that claims to be democratic is established."
Sachnin resident Sami Ganayim told Ynet, "For us, Land Day is sacred. I will always remember the invasion of our lands and the shahids (martyrs) who were killed trying to protect them. The worst thing is that the State of Israel doesn't respect its Arab citizens and takes every measure to humiliate and banish us from the country."
"However, we will not let them realize this dream and will survive until our last breath," he said.
Hadas Ziv, director of Physicians for Human Rights, also attended the rally in Al-Arakib. "Land Day not only reminds us of the historic injustice of land expropriation, it is marked to protest against the continued policy of dispossession and plundering aimed at reminding the country's Palestinian citizens that they are not wanted in their homeland," she said.
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