Israeli Arabs marked the 40th anniversary of Land Day on Wednesday with a general strike throughout the Galilee and Negev regions. Arab organizations used the event to criticize the government for its “discriminatory policies” against Arabs.
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Land Day marks the killing of six Israeli Arabs in 1976 during civil protests after the government – led by then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – expropriated 20,000 dunams (5,000 acres) of land in the Galilee region that belonged to Arab citizens.
Wednesday’s two biggest marches were scheduled to take place in Dir Hanna and Kafr Kana.
The general strike was called by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee. In a statement, it said the demonstrations and marches in the Galilee and Negev were designed to protest the Netanyahu government’s policy of discrimination and incitement against the Arab community, and its policy of demolishing homes, mainly in the unrecognized villages in the Negev.
The committee and civil social organizations also noted the acute housing shortage in Arab towns, and the delays in approving master plans and expanding their areas of jurisdiction. In this context, they highlighted the plan to expand the Jewish town of Harish in the predominantly Arab Wadi Ara region.
“If an Arab local government had dared ask to expand its area of a jurisdiction by 250 percent, we may assume the recommendation would be for the council head to seek psychiatric help, or he would be accused of nationalist subversion against the state,” said Hanna Swaid, chairman of the Arab Center for Alternative Planning.
During 2015, say Adalah and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, the Israel Land Authority published tenders to sell land for the construction of 38,095 housing units in Jewish and mixed Arab-Jewish towns, compared to 1,835 units for Arab towns – in other words, some 5 percent of the land being sold for housing related to Arab towns.