ISL-Report from Land Day in Palestine

Report by Yossi Schwartz from the Internationalist Socialist League (Israel/Occupied Palestine), 31.3.2013

The Arab Jewish revolutionary ISL participated in the land day in the town of Sakhnin, distributing hundreds of leaflets in Hebrew and Arabic calling for one democratic Palestinian state from the river to the sea that will be one multinational workers state from the river to the sea. In the leaflet we explained as well the revolutionary program for Syria. For a working class revolution but at the same time siding with the forces fighting Assad bloody regime, including the Islamists that dominate the opposition without giving them any political support. The leaflet called as well for unity in action of the working class and the masses around different demands including a Palestinian democratic state from the river to the sea and multinational working class supported by the peasants republic from the river to the sea and ended with a call for the Fifth International.

We raised demands like free all political prisoners, and a Workers and Falahin (peasants in Arabic) government from the river to the sea. Our leaflets were well received. Many came to ask for them and people took them home to show other people. At the same time the leaflets of the CWI group Maavak socialisti that called for two states solution could be seen everywhere on the street. At one point I gave out a leaflet to a young man and he instead of reading it crumbled it. I told him that he behaves like a Zionists. Six people around me shouted at him and demanded that he apologized and asked for leaflets. In various places I made small speeches about the need for a workers led revolution with the support of the oppressed masses. I met people whom I did not see for many years who told me that they feel the force of the struggle that force them to become more active.

The Land Day this year was a Palestinian national protest from the river to the sea. The biggest rally on Land Day took place in the Galilee town of Sakhnin. In remembrance, Palestinians plant trees on land Israel threatened to expropriate in 1976 to reaffirm their ties to the land. Between 20,000-30,000 took part in the event in Sakhnin which is near to Haifa in the North of the country.

The mayor in a speech called on Hamas and the PA to unite to achieve a mini state. The crowd did not pay much attention to his speech. In the demonstration the supporters of the Stalinists CP and their front Hadash came with the flag of Assad’s Syria and attacked the Al Jazeera TV crew for taking position against Assad. The civil war in Syria has split the Palestinians. Even the CP itself speaks in two voices, while part of the CP supports Assad the other part oppose him and look to the imperialists for a solution. The more left leaning among the Palestinians oppose Assad the butcher and any imperialist intervention. We debated with some young activists that support Assad showing them the history of the regime during the civil war in Lebanon when it stood with Israel against the left, and in Iraq when the regime stood with the US-Imperialism.

In the South thousands marched in an unrecognized Palestinian village. In Israel there are some dozens of villages that the Israeli state does not recognize and does not provide municipal services.

Demonstrations took place in the West Bank to the north and south of Jerusalem. Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian at gates leading into the Old City. A Reuters reporter saw two men being carried away injured after scuffles at Jerusalem’s Lions’ Gate, while police said they had made several arrests at the nearby Damascus Gate.

In Gaza, dozens of Palestinians held a Land Day procession east of Rafah in the southern part of the Hamas-ruled territory. The protesters reported that the Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters in their direction from the other side of the border and used live fire. One person was moderately injured from the gunfire.

Irina Galushko, a reporter for Russia Today, reported from Qalandia checkpoint on the road connecting Jerusalem and Ramallah:

“The Palestinians are showing no signs of giving up at all, the land day demonstrations have actually been a tradition since 1976, when they occurred for the first time, 6 Palestinians were killed in a confrontation with Israeli police and Israeli armed forces. And it has been happening every year as it has been happening today.”

A column of protesters formed in the West Bank and marched towards Qalandia. The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and pictures of Palestinian prisoners, one of whom, Samer Issawi, is currently in hospital due to his deteriorating health conditions after having been on hunger strike for over 250 days since August 2012 in protest for his release.

The Israeli army wrote on Twitter that Palestinian protesters threw stones at Israeli settlers vehicles traveling on south-north Route 60, which passes through the West Bank; Israeli Troops patrolling the border between Israel and the Gaza strip used live fire to disperse protesters who came close to the fence.

Protesters gathered in Israel’s neighboring countries on Friday for demonstrations marking the 36th annual Land Day, including in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

The demonstration in Jordan attracted up to 15,000 people, according to AFP. The demonstration was attended by members from the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews.

Hundreds of people gathered at Lebanon’s Beaufort Castle near the border with Israel on Friday to take part in Land Day demonstrations in site of the attempt of the security forces of Lebanese forces to prevent them from reaching the border with Israel. Authorities in Lebanon claimed they are acting to prevent a repeat of last year’s Nakba Day protests, in which at least 10 people were killed near the border with Israel by the Israeli army, and erected checkpoints on roads in Lebanon’s south to prevent demonstrators from encroaching on the border.

The rally attracted people of all ages to the scenic fortress, where Lebanese security forces had erected a barbed wire fence on the southern side of the hill to contain protesters, the Lebanese English-Language The Daily Star reported. About 200 foreign activists, including two US rabbis, arrived at Beaufort Castle to join the rally, according to the Star. Protesters in Lebanon faced the Lebanese security forces who tried to prevent them from demonstrating against Israel using the excuse that the army attempts to prevent a repeat of fatal protests that occurred along the border with Israel last year.

In Egypt, meanwhile, activists said Egyptian security forces prevented mass protests from taking place, while organizers from another Cairo-based group called off a demonstration due to the political situation in Egypt, Al Jazeera reported according to pro-Palestinian activists.

Gamal Abdel Salaam, a leading organizer in the Al-Quds Committee in Egypt, told Al Jazeera that Egyptian security forces prevented a march from Cairo University in Giza to the grounds of the Great Pyramids, despite the organization receiving approval “from all sides.”

Another activist and director of the Center for Palestine Studies in Cairo, Ibrahim Al-Darawi, told Al Jazeera that a massive demonstration from the Al Azhar Mosque was called off due to Egypt’s “internal situation… and political tensions at the current time.”

Abdel Salaam insisted that despite calling off his organization’s march, his group would continue to work “for the sake of Jerusalem and address attempts by the Israeli occupation to Judaize [the city].”

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