A main sit-in and festival was held on the border on Thursday, while other activities took place within the enclave, in the Palestinian territories and in Arab towns in Israel.
Young men, carrying Palestinian flags, approached the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel, while representatives of the factions delivered speeches. The Israeli army fired tear gas canisters at the demonstrators.
Land Day is a day of commemoration for Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians of the events of March 30, 1976 in Israel. A general strike and marches were organized in Arab towns in response to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land.
Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed, 100 were wounded and hundreds of others were arrested during clashes with Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, the 2018–2019 Gaza border protests, dubbed the Great March of Return, were a series of demonstrations held each Friday near the Gaza-Israel border from 30 March 2018 to Dec. 27, 2019, during which at least 217 people including 48 children were killed.
The demonstrators demanded that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to ancestral land in what is now Israel. They also protested against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Khaled Al-Batsh of Islamic Jihad’s political bureau said: “We have no choice but to have unity in the face of confrontation, for a path to liberation that passes through the barrels of rifles.”
Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said: “We affirm our adherence to the right of return, and we call for the pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the escalation at all points of contact with the occupation.”
Mustafa Ibrahim, a political analyst, said that this year’s Land Day protests were not expected to take a violent turn.
“It is not expected that we will return to daily or weekly protests on the border, but the factions always like to put pressure on the occupation and remind it of what could happen on the Gaza border again.
“The protests were within a certain period and they achieved their goals, according to the factions. I do not think that we will return to that model again in the current period, and we cannot deny that the Palestinian losses were great.”
Delivering a speech at the Gaza border, Mohsen Abu Ramadan, head of the National Committee, said: “Land Day carries a lot of meaning. The anniversary of Land Day comes this year under a fascist right-wing government, which constitutes an opportunity to raise the Palestinian issue in the international arena.
“The most important lesson of the immortal Land Day is national unity around a national strategy to advance our cause.”