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Israeli Arabs Observe ´Land Day´ in Lod, Wave Hamas Flags

Israel Police and other security agencies were on high alert Thursday, as Israeli-Arabs observed what they call Land Day. Israeli-Arabs in Lod waved Hamas and PLO flags.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 3/31/2006, 10:43 AM / Last Update: 3/30/2006, 5:47 PM

With some 70 terror alerts, including 13 specific warnings of planned attacks, police remained on high alert, especially in Jerusalem. A special focus was placed on the Old City. As a result, the Temple Mount was once again closed to Jews and other non-Muslims.

Land Day commemorates the killing of six Arab rioters in 1976. On March 11, 1976, the Israeli government published a plan to expropriate approximately 5,250 acres of land in the Galilee. Less than a third of the land was Arab-owned, and the government cited eminent domain as the reason for the move. The Arab Rakah (New Communist List) Party seized the opportunity to call a general strike for March 30. Riots broke out the night before, with Israeli-Arabs throwing rocks and firebombs at police and soldiers. The riots continued the next day and intensified, resulting in many wounded members of Israeli security forces and the death of the six Arab rioters.

Since 1976, Land Day has become an annual anti-Israel event observed by Arabs on both sides of the Green Line. Hamas and Hizbullah are often publicly supported at Land Day gatherings, with flags from Syria and other hostile Arab countries waved as the Jewish State is denounced.

This year's main official event, organized by the Israeli-Arab Monitoring Committee, was held in Lod, with a permit granted by the police. This is the first year that the often raucous and violent event was held in a mixed Jewish and Arab city rather than an Arab one. Police continued to provide security for the event even after the flags of the Hamas terror group and the PLO were waved and marched through the town.

Jewish residents of Lod and Ramle held a Land Day rally as well, decrying the lack of enforcement against illegal Arab construction in the region. They protested the police decision to grant a permit to the Land Day rally in front of Lod’s Central Bus Station.

In Jerusalem, Arabs violently rioted near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. Rioters threw stones at any Jews or police they spotted and were eventually dispersed by riot police.

In Hevron, left-wing activists of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and local Arabs attempted to plant trees at the Jewish Heroes Hill outpost, along Worshippers Way, between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs. The army declared the area a closed military zone and the trespassers eventually left.

Israel National Radio’s Yishai Fleisher suggested in his Thursday broadcast that Land Day be observed by Jews as a day of celebration of Jewish resettlement of the land of Israel. “Sakhnin is a Talmudic village, with burial sites of great sages,” Fleisher said. “What happened in 1976 was that the Jewish people began taking it back, our enemies rebelled and we killed them. That is Land Day.”