Land Day: overview of struggles and violations imposed upon Palestinian farmers, fisherpersons, and herders.
Prior to the war of 1948,
Palestinians owned approximately 78% of total area of historical Palestine, the
remaining were state land “as classified by British mandate at that time. Today,
in 2021, Israelis constitute 52% of total population in historical Palestine
but utilizes over 85% of the total land, while Palestinians comprised 48% of
population and utilize 15% of the land (PCBS, press release, 2019)  this
drastic change of percentages indicates actions of land theft in Palestinian
lands by the “Israeli” occupation.
Between the years 1967 and 2017, 200 settlements have been established, 131 of which are officially announced as towns, along with 11 neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and 16 other settlements in Gaza. Settlements in the West Bank have over 620,000 residents, 413,400 of which happen to be in the illegal settlements of the West Bank. These settlements stretch on over 538,127 dunums and make up to 10% of the West Bank. Another 1,650,376 dunums of the West Bank are under “Israeli” leverage, thus the settlements are controlling 40% of the West Bank. , the total of theft of land -classified as high or medium agricultural value- in the West Bank is 2,072 thousand dunums, constituting about 37% of the West Bank. The Palestinians use only 931.5 thousand dunums which constitute about 17% of the West Bank area. (PCBS, press release, 2019)
“Israel” has been pursuing an annexation plan -which started in 1967. Annexed areas that include 106,000 Palestinians who fall under the rule of the “Israeli” occupation in area C and Jordan Valley which is one of “Israel’s” main target in its annexation plan, it makes up to 50% of the agricultural areas in and “Israel” has already seized 88% of the valley, preventing Palestinians from any benefits or use of these lands.[4
Until now, Palestinians are struggling daily, with the continuous injustice of land expropriation, confiscation and annexation, along with the existence of illegal settlements on the account of displacing Palestinians. Today, an estimated 476,033 Israeli settlers live in the occupied Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of international law. Despite repeated condemnation from the international community, all under the financial and political support of the “Israeli” government. These actions directly violate Article 49(6) of the fourth Geneva Convention which states “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” (185)
About the land day:
In 1967 and after the sorrowful war of June, “Israel” was able to seize the remaining Palestinian territories, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights. Today this event is known as the Naksa which translates from Arabic into defeat. Over 750,000 Palestinians were left homeless with nowhere to go, most of them still live abroad with their old house keys in hopes of getting their right to return to their lands.
As a response to “Israel’s” expropriation of Galilee which was published on March 11th, 1976, Palestinians started a general strike and marches to save the affected 20,000 dunums threatened to be seized by the occupation according to the annexation plan -6,000 of which owned by Arabs. These protests took place in Gaza, West Bank, Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and the Palestinian towns and cities in “Israel”. The occupation military forces responded by suppressing the protests, injuring over 100 Palestinians and murdering 6 of them. Since then, March the 30th is marked as the Palestinian Land Day and during which Palestinian commemorate those who have sacrificed their lives to protect their beloved land.
Violations to Palestinians farmer’s rights:
Violations and crimes against farmers were varied; the most important of which was the violation of the right to peaceful assembly, physical integrity, and attacks on the peaceful activities of farmers preventing them from accessing water, land and posing physical threats on those who work in fields. During the second half of 2020, UAWC monitored 68 military orders between demolition and confiscation orders and documented over 700 attacks on farmers along with uprooting 6,000 trees and bulldozing 3,500 dunums of land for the sake of settlement expansion. The attacks in the second half were not limited to farmers and lands in the West Bank, attacks also affected fishermen, their boats, and agricultural lands in the Gaza Strip, carrying out 200 attacks on fishermen in Gaza Strip, injuring 4 fishermen and confiscating 2 boats.
These attacks of the occupation forces are a clear violation of the International Law, human rights and the treaties that are signed worldwide, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Right of Civilians in the time of War, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and People Working in Rural Areas, in addition to articles from the Palestinian Basic Law, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, Burning and uprooting trees violates Global Environmental Law, which is a branch of Public International Law. Destroying crops and pumping sewage water is a violation of Article 29 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
This year marks the 45th anniversary of our Palestinian Land Day, with endless violations and confiscations, with many people forced to immigrate now live in foreign countries away from their homes and others living under threat of losing their lands, therefore, in light of the current conditions that prevent and limit any activity on the ground to protect the Palestinian land, we at The Union of Agricultural Work Committees call on the international community and international human rights institutions to take steps forward that will protect farmers’ rights under the threat of the so-called “Deal of the Century” in which this deal will annex more than 30% of the lands classified (C), including the Palestinian valleys, which are considered the historical food basket for the Palestinian people, as they are the most fertile land, rich of natural resources and are the food sovereignty key for Palestinians in the future.
We on Land Day, call upon the UN and third States to:
Take effective measures to uphold international justice and accountability for widespread and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian farmers, fisherpersons and herders.
- Bring an end to the Gaza closure.
- Supporting the full implementation and respect of UNDROP articles and develop monitoring and accountability mechanisms to hold violators accountable.
- To continue supporting farmers’, herders’ and fisherpersons’ right to live in dignity, to protect their culture and indigenous knowledge , to priorities and promote small scale farmers’ sustainable agro ecological solutions, to support Palestinians to gain their right to food sovereignty and access to natural resources
 The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Settlements, November 11th 2017, Btselem, March 22nd 2021.
 Al-Arabi, Statistics: 476 1,000 settlers living in 150 settlements in the occupied West Bank, January 20th 2021, Nidal Watad, March 23rd 2021.
 Al-Jazeera, The Naksa: How Israel occupied the whole of Palestine in 1967, June 4th 2018, Zena Tahhan, March 23rd 2021.