Marking Land Day in Beit Ommar, 30 March 2012

30 March 2012

Today, March 30th, 2012, demonstrations took place all over Palestine commemorating Land Day. On March 30, 1976, thousands of Palestinians gathered to protest Israeli government plans to confiscate 60,000 dunams of Arab-owned land in the Galilee. Israeli forces killed six Palestinians that day, and wounded and jailed hundreds. Palestinians continue to mark this day to protest the ongoing expropriation of Palestinian land.

In Beit Ommar, a peaceful demonstration took place at the entrance of the town, which is located on Route 60. Before reaching the gates of the town, which were closed by the Israeli military to keep people from entering and exiting the town, about a dozen Israeli soldiers attacked the peaceful demonstration with teargas and metal bullets coated in rubber, frequently referred to as rubber bullets. The soldiers threw teargas in every direction, and many people were injured by inhaling the gas. Three activists were injured by rubber bullets.

About 150 activists joined today’s demonstration in Beit Ommar. During the demonstration, Israeli soldiers occupied two Palestinian houses and shot at activists from the rooftops. When soldiers occupy a home, it frightens the family, especially the children, and the soldiers lock the family members in one room while they occupy the house.

Soldiers shot about six teargas cans towards the Center for Freedom and Justice, where PSP activists were watching and filming from the roof, and several activists were injured. After a while, the military jeeps entered further into the town, numbering eight in total, and started shooting more rubber bullets and teargas at demonstrators and people’s homes. Demonstrators threw stones at the jeeps, and eventually forced them to return to the watchtower at the entrance of Beit Ommar. One Israeli soldier was injured during the demonstration. Israeli forces injured roughly 340 Palestinians in the West Bank and killed a 20 year old Palestinian man in Gaza during today’s demonstrations.

The weekly nonviolent protest in Beit Ommar will take place tomorrow, March 31st. It will be used to mark Land Day, and to show solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strikes.