PA Arabs riot on Land Day
PA Arabs riot on Land Day Reuters

Arab communal leaders in Israel have warned of an escalation of tensions with authorities Monday over what they termed the government's "discriminatory policies", during the annual "Land Day" demonstrations.

For Israeli Arabs and Palestinians these policies include so-called land "expropriations" in the Galilee and the Negev, though Israel notes that these lands were taken over by authorities for security purposes, and were never actually legally owned by the Arab claimants.  

Land Day commemorates the initial government takeovers which were first announced in 1976. During ensuing riots and clashes with Israeli security forces, a number of Arab rioters were killed. 

Speaking about the March 30 remembrance day, Chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, Muhammad Zeidan, claimed that Israel was "confiscating" land from Arabs in the Negev. Claims that Israel is "seizing" land from Bedouins in the south are often made by anti-Israel activists, as scores of illegal Arab settlements spring up in the area. In fact, numerous reports have debunked those claims, particularly given that the settlements in question have only sprung up over the last several years.

In an interview on Monday with newspaper Palestine, published by Hamas in Gaza, Zeidan claimed that tens of thousands of residential and commercial buildings are under threat of demolition because inhabitants lack the proper license or were not included in the buildings' master plans. 

Zeidan warned that a continuation of the Israeli government's current policies could lead to an "explosion" within the Arab sector. 

Land Day will be marked with a series of events in 2015.  

Two parades are scheduled for April 5, one in the Arraba village in the Galilee and the other in the Negev.