Palestinians protest over evictions

'Land Day' march demands that the government stops taking Arab land in Israel.

    Palestinian protesters said their land was being taken away to build homes for Jews moving to Israel [AFP]
    "We chose to hold one of the marches here this year because it  is the government's policy to Judaize the city," Abed Satel, the head of the League for Arabs of Jaffa, said.

    'Land Day'

    The demonstration was one of several "Land Day" rallies being staged across the country.

    The day has been observed by Israel's large Arab minority of 1.2 million every year since protesters clashed with security forces in 1976 after a government decision to expropriate land in the Galilee.

    "I came to protest because they want to demolish my home. They want to give it to French Jews"


    Laila Anad, protester

    Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyedin reported from Jaffa that Israelis as well as Palestinians had gathered in Jaffa's main city sqaure, complaining about an acceleration in land confiscation by Israel.

    "Over the last year or so, residents have been receiving notices, announcements and lawsuits that they have to evict their land to make way for new condiminiums and apartment buildings that are to be built," he said.
     
    "The protesters have been demanding an end to the confiscation policy.
     
    "They want to continue living in the land that they have lived in, and many of their parents have lived in. Both Israeli and Palestinian residents, say that the policy must stop."

    Protesters waved Palestinian flags and banners in Arabic reading "We are here to stay, we will never leave our homes" and others in Hebrew reading "Take your hands off our homes".
      
    "I came to protest because they want to demolish my home. They want to give it to French Jews," Laila Anad, one of the demonstrators, said.

    Defending homes

    Jamal Zahalka, deputy of the Israeli-Arab group, said that the residents of Jaffa would to resort to the judicial system to defend their homes.
     
    In Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, eight people were wounded when security forces fired rubber-coated bullets and teargas at a small crowd of protesters, according to Palestinian medics.
      
    The demonstration, which is staged every week to protest against the separation barrier Israel has built in the occupied West Bank, also marked Land Day, organisers said.
     
    About 160,000 Arabs remained in Israel following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.
     
    Israeli Arabs have voting rights and have 10 representatives in the 120-seat parliament.
     
    Though, their standard of living is much higher than that of Palestinians in the occupied territories, but they they have always been treated as second-class citizens.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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