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ARABS-ISRAEL - Mar. 30 - 'Land Day' Marked By Clashes.

At least 23 Israeli and Palestinian Arabs are injured in clashes with Israeli security forces during an annual day of protests against the confiscation of land and the spread of Jewish settlements. Hundreds of protesters storm an army base being built on confiscated ground west of the Israeli Arab town of Sakhnin. The protesters reportedly tear down fencing and set fires on the site. Staff at a medical centre in the town say 18 people had been treated for injuries after security forces responded with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. (The protest is part of "Land Day", an annual day of protests by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians to commemorate a 1976 protest against the confiscation of thousands of acres of Arab-owned land during which Israeli troops killed 6 Arab citizens.) Witnesses also report stone-throwing incidents at other protests, including near the West Bank town of Nablus, where 200 Palestinians march on a Jewish settlement. Israel's 1m Arab citizens, who make up a 6th of the population, observe a general strike on Mar. 30. (At 1st, Land Day was a vehicle for Israeli Arabs to press demands for greater equality. However, in recent years Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have increasingly joined the protests.)

In a landmark ruling this week, Israeli Interior Minister Natan Sharansky ordered land that forms part of the town of Rosh Ha'ayin in central Israel to be returned to the Arab village of Kafr Qassem, from which it was expropriated after 1948. About 150 Israeli Jews demonstrate against the unprecedented decision on Mar. 30, which they say had been taken to calm Arab sentiment ahead of Land Day. Also this week, the Israeli Supreme Court said an Arab couple could not be kept from buying land in a community the government had earmarked only for Jews. (The land protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip takes on significance this year given a pledge by Palestinian leader Arafat to declare an independent state in 2000 with or without a deal with Israel.) On Mar. 29, he told Palestinians in a TV address that Israel had "raped" their homeland and "colonised [it] by the force of occupation". Arafat said: "This is a legitimate right - to reside on our own land, our own Palestine, in our independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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