Thousands of Arab Israelis mark Land Day
Thousands of people took part in rallies on Tuesday to mark the 28th Land Day in Sakhnin, Dir Hanna and Kufr Kana ahead of the main event in Arabeh.
Israeli Arabs protested against government policy on the community. A general strike in all Arab towns and villages was also declared, but was only partially honored.
The community is protesting against the demolition of "illegally" built houses, the government's policy in the "unrecognized" Bedouin villages in the Negev, and continuing neglect, discrimination and provocation against Arabs in Israel.
Meanwhile, Arab parliament members marking Land Day on Tuesday said the Israeli Arab community is neither a burden to nor an enemy of the State of Israel.
In the course of a rally held Tuesday morning in the Israeli Arab town of Kufr Kana, MP Abdulmalik Dehamshe from the United Arab List said, "the land is an important part, without which we cannot realize our rights. The time has come for Israel's government, as well as the police, to relate to us as citizens with equal rights and not as a burden nor an enemy."
For his part, MP Wasal Taha from Balad, who participated in the Kufr Kana rally, said the Arab public opposes Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to recruit Israeli Arabs into a national service program. "The initiative is meant to blur the Palestinian identity of Arabs citizens of Israel," Taha said.
Sheikh Kamal Khatib, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, also participated in the rally along with hundreds of Kfr Kana residents.
The main Land Day rally will be held in Arabeh, one of the main confrontation sites on March 30, 1976, between Arab demonstrators and the police following the seizure of Arab lands in the Galilee. Six Arabs were shot dead during those protests. (Albawaba.com)
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