Land Day — held on March 30 each year — is a day of significance for Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian diaspora everywhere. It marks a special moment in Palestinian history when protests against land confiscation by Israel turned deadly for six people. The day not only commemorates this past event, but it also celebrates the Palestinian spirit of revolution.
History of Land Day
It began in 1976. The Israeli government declared its intention to requisition lands — from Arab villages like Sakhnin and Arraba in the Galilee region of Israel — for official use. This move would displace numerous Arab citizens.
The very first political organization claiming to represent all Palestinians, the National Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands, called for a strike. They named this ‘Land Day’ and launched widespread protests, mostly in the affected areas. This was significant, considering public protests by Arab citizens were rare to non-existent prior to the 1970s. Political movements were active but sporadic. This event united Arabs on both sides of the Israeli border.
The protest itself did not stop the land expropriation plan. Protestors were met with strong resistance. Hundreds were injured and six people lost their lives.
Sixteen years after the incident, Land Day became a national holiday in Palestine and is celebrated annually with demonstrations and a general strike by Palestinians everywhere.
This movement gained a renewed surge in 2018 when thousands of Palestinians — families, people of all ages, and genders — commemorated Land Day by peacefully walking towards the border areas along the Gaza Strip. They dubbed this the Great March of Return and originally intended to highlight the sacrifices of those who resisted and continue to resist land acquisition; it is also a protest against Israel’s 10-year long siege of Gaza. Since that year, Palestinians in Gaza have held weekly marches towards a security fence put up by Israel. They mainly attempt to break the siege around their territory and demand their land back as well.
Land Day has been commemorated by Palestinians in locations worldwide — U.S., Canada, Germany, Finland, France, Belgium — and continues till today.
Land Day timeline
The Israeli government’s land appropriation plan comes into force; they take over around 20,000 dunams of predominantly Arab-owned land in Israel's Galilee region.
Alina Koren studies seven major newspapers that covered the original Land Day strikes and finds that reports relied almost extensively on statements from people in official positions in Israel.
Around 200,000 out of the 1.2 million population of Arab Palestinians living in Israel are estimated to be displaced.
The Press Center of the Palestinian National Authority calls Land Day '...a remarkable day in the history of the Palestinian people's struggle, as the Palestinians in such a particular day embrace the land of their ancestors, their identity and their existence.'
Starting on Land Day, protestors march towards the Gaza-Israel border each Friday, demanding the Israeli blockade around the border be taken down, and the Palestinians get their land back.
Land Day FAQs
What happened in 1976 Palestine?
The Israeli government appropriated land from villages in the Galilee region of Israel, a place that holds primarily Palestinian Arab citizens. This caused strife, then protests, and finally, led to the founding of Land Day.
When was the Land Day uprising?
The Land Day uprising began on March 30, 1976. Since then, this day has been known as Land Day and is marked by similar strikes and protests by the Palestinian people.
What caused the first Intifada?
The first Intifada (an Arabic word to describe Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation) lasted from December 8, 1987 to September 13, 1993. These were protests against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
How to Observe Land Day
Read up on the land conflict
Multiple studies, articles, and news reports globally have covered the land issue and the Israel-Palestine clash. Take a moment to brush up on your knowledge of this issue.
Learn about the protests
On this day around the globe, Palestinians arrange many protests and initiatives to mark this date. See what you can find out and how you can follow the live proceedings.
Plant an olive seedling
Mark this day by planting olives, a plant very important to Palestinians. The plant, like the people, are resilient, and their roots grow deep.
5 Interesting Facts About Palestine
Olive trees are an iconic Palestinian symbol
Not only is Palestine home to the oldest olive trees in the world, but the plant also symbolizes the country’s people.
Palestine is among the oldest inhabited places
Archaeological discoveries indicate it’s the first land that experienced the changing of primordial life to a sedentary and agricultural one; the world's oldest city, Jericho, was founded here in about 8000 B.C.
These were the oldest people to inhabit Palestine; modern-day Palestinians are descended from Canaanites, the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, and the Arab tribes who intermarried with them.
It’s sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians
Palestine is the center of blessed sites like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth.
Relief from strife
Special organizations like the Islamic Relief in Palestine have addressed the strife and the stress this conflict brings to locals, and have been working to provide emergency humanitarian relief, recreational activities, and psychosocial support programs.
Why Land Day is Important
It's a day of tribute
People learn about — and commemorate — those who fought and continue to fight for their rights, land, and identity. Let’s honor and remember them.
It teaches us solidarity
Land Day united Palestinians from all ends of the spectrum for a common cause. We can take inspiration from this act.
It shines more light on the land issue
The protests and subsequent strikes have served to bring this issue to the mainstream — it’s a topic many people know and talk about. We believe this creates more chances for some resolution.
Land Day dates