The Background of the Land Day
On March 11, 1976, Israel’s government, then headed by Yitzhak Rabin, published a plan to expropriate some 20,000 dunams (2,000 hectares or 4,942 acres) of land stretching between the neighboring Arab cities of Sakhnin and Arabeh in the Galilee, 6,300 dunams of which were privately owned by Arab residents of the area. In response to this plan, following a decision by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Israel, local Arab leaders called for a day of general strikes and mass protests against the confiscation of lands to be held on March 30. The mayor of Nazareth, the communist Tawfiq Ziad, was among the local Arab leaders who made such a call.
To frustrate the protest of the Arab community, the governmental declared a curfew to be imposed on the villages of Sakhnin, Arabeh, Deir Hanna, Tu’ran, Tamra and Kabul, effective from 17:00 on March 29, 1976, the day before the general strike. Rabin’s government declared all demonstrations illegal and threatened to dismiss from their jobs any “agitators,” such as schoolteachers, who encouraged their students to participate. However, the threats were not effective, and many teachers led their pupils out of the classrooms to join the general strike and marches that took place throughout the Arab towns in Israel and which were violently suppressed by the military and police.
In the wake of the first Land Day, a year later, in 1977, the Communist Party of Israel and other progressive forces founded the electoral movement Hadash, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, which has been active ever since and which, in 2015, was instrumental in the founding of the Joint List.