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Land Day

As we mark the  anniversary of Palestinian “Land Day”, known as "Youm Al-Ard" in Arabic Israel’s illegal settlement expansion and land confiscation continues unabated, even at a time in which the need for reconciliation, peace and justice is more pressing than ever before.

March 30th, 1976, is a sacred and “painful” date. On that day, Israeli occupation forces confiscated a total of 5500 acres of land from the Palestinian villages of the Galilee, in northern Palestine. These areas were classified by the Israelis as “closed military zones” and later fell subject to heavy illegal settlement expansion. The confiscation of land provoked heavy confrontations between Palestinian citizens and Israeli military forces, confrontations that claimed the lives of 6 Palestinians, injured 96, and resulted in the arrest of 300.

Perhaps there is no better occasion than today to call upon Israel to “stop” land theft and to cease all settlement activities on occupied Palestinian land. Since 1967, Israel has confiscated more than 750,000 acres of land from the 1.5 million acres comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These illegal actions have come under continuous attack from various international bodies and organizations, as well as governments.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 clearly asserts that the “…occupying power cannot move segments of its own population to parts of the land it occupies,” or make any demographic changes that are not in the interest of the occupied. Furthermore, provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention have unquestionably condemned Israel’s settlement activities and demanded the ceasing of “all” settlement expansion by Israel.

The Israeli government is evidently not making any efforts, or expressing any willingness, to alter its policies; settlements continue to grow, and land is being confiscated regularly.

Palestinian Land Day is a day for remembrance. Yet equally, it is a day for demonstration against injustice, and a call for freedom.


 Press Release on the Occasion of Land Day,


Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics Issues a Press Release on the Occasion of Land Day, March 30.

More than 85% of the Area of Historical Palestine is Under Israeli Control, and 55% of the Total Number of Settlers in the West Bank was in the Jerusalem Governorate

The thirtieth of March 1976 had witnessed an uprising in the territory of 48 in defense of their land and the confiscation of 21 thousand dunums(1) of land in the Galilee, Al-Muthalath, and the Negev.  That uprising was violently faced by Israeli occupation that led to the deaths of six young demonstrators. On this occasion of the land day, Israel continues to apply its policy of land confiscation, and settlements expansion to undermine the foundations of and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

555 Thousand Dunums Confiscated to Construct the Expansion and Annexation Wall

Israeli Occupation confiscated hundreds of thousands of dunums of land to construct the Expansion and Annexation Wall.  Data showed that the isolated area between the wall and the green line amounted to almost 555 thousand dunums, which represents about 9.8% of the West Bank area. The wall isolated amount of 191.0 km2 in the eastern area, which represents about 3.4% of the West Bank area.  It is expected to devour the wall about 46% of West Bank territory divided into 10% isolated west of the wall, and 4% in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley will be isolated for some 29% either by the current plan of separation, or if the establishment of the eastern wall, and there are 3.5 % will be forfeited to the bypass roads and settlements of the remaining central West Bank. Israel has also set up a buffer zone along the border of the Gaza Strip width more than 1,500m along the eastern border of the Gaza Strip with length reached, about 58 km, which means that it would cut 87kmē of the total area of the Gaza Strip (which is one of the most densely populated), after that Israel controls the amount to 24% of the area (365 kmē), .

Israeli Continues its Policy of House Demolitions in Jerusalem to Judaize the Land; and About $ 50 Million in Fines Against Palestinian Residents of Jerusalem to Restrict the Construction of their Homes

In the Jerusalem Governorate, Israeli authorities have not only continued its occupation policies of racism toward the Palestinians through the confiscation of identity cards and demolition of houses, but sought in every possible way to restrict the issuance of building permits for the Palestinians. Since 2000 to Jan 2010 there were 1,010 housing units demolished in East Jerusalem (Exclude those parts of Jerusalem, which were annexed by Israel in 1967).  The year 2009 had witnessed a remarkable rise in the number of demolished of homes in Jerusalem including 103 inhabited housing units, of which 23 forced demolition by, displacement of 569 Palestinians including 281 children. In year 2008, 89 Palestinian housing units were demolished by Israeli Occupation Authorities. These figures do not include houses that were demolished by their owners to avoid demolition cost enforced by Israelis on house owners; in addition, Israeli Authority has been issued about 2000 decision to evacuate Palestinian houses in preparation for demolition, as in the case of AlBustan neighborhood in Silwan and Shu'fat.  On the other hand, Occupation Authorities impose large fines on Palestinian residents of Jerusalem in case of construction without a permit (The total financial penalties collected by the municipality of West Jerusalem for unlicensed construction since 2004 until the year 2008 reached approximately $ 50 million.  Additional methods were used by Israel Authority to attain its demographic objectives by revoking the residency of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, 8,558 Palestinians had their residency revoked since 1967 according to the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights (B'Tselem), of which four thousand five hundred and seventy-seven from Jerusalem in 2008, equivalent to half the number who withdrew during the four years

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territory demolished about 23,100 housing units within the framework of the policy of expulsion and destruction wrought by the occupation during the period from 1967 until the end of May 2009 in the West Bank, and Gaza Strip under the pretext of resisting the occupation or construction without a license, including Jerusalem, of the 13,400 housing units were completely destroyed from 2000 until the end of May 2009 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the study of the National and International Relations of the Palestinian Liberation Organization,  

These figures do not include more than 4,100 housing units were completely destroyed and about 17,000 buildings were destroyed partially in Gaza Strip during the recent aggression on Gaza Strip December 2008.

The United Nations estimates that there are about 60 thousand Palestinians in East Jerusalem, currently living in the buildings threatened with demolition.  It is noteworthy that the Israeli housing policies in East Jerusalem illegally discriminate against the Palestinian population, who represent about 60 per cent of the population of East Jerusalem, but Israeli government has not allocated to the Palestinian installations only 12 percent.  Even in this small area allocated, not many Palestinians can afford to complete the process of issuing building permits, a process complicated and expensive.

54.6% of the Total Number of Settlers in the West Bank was in the Jerusalem Governorate

According to 2008 data, the number of occupation sites and Military Bases in the West Bank totaled 440; the highest number of Settlements were in the Jerusalem governorate.  Data indicate that the number of settlers in the West Bank reached 500,670 settlers at the end of 2008; the majority (261,885 settlers or 52.3%) live in the Jerusalem governorate (198,458 settlers are in the part of Jerusalem which was annexed by Israel in 1967).  In demographic terms, the percentage of settlers in the Palestinian Territory, according to 2008 data, equaled 17.2% of the total persons living in the West Bank; the highest percentage was in the Jerusalem governorate where settlers represent 41.3% of the total population.

(1) One Dunum equal 1,000 square meters (exactly).

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