AL AQSA IMAM: LAND DAY ENTRENCHES SYMBOLISM OF PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE

Doha, – Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Council and imam of Al Aqsa Mosque, said that commemorating the 41th anniversary of Land Day roots the symbolism of the struggle of the Palestinian people and represents clinging to its land and steadfastness in its position in rejection of all Israeli policies based on annexation of lands, occupation and expansion at the expense of the Palestinian right to an independent state.

Speaking exclusively to QNA, Sheikh Sabri said Palestinians celebrate the day their own way through large demonstrations that show the size of sacrifices that they made to defend the Palestinian right that was stolen, confiscated and seized, hailing the stances of all Palestinians who clung to the land and did not give up without caring about the Israeli practices and constant attempts to Judaize the land and blur its identity.

He hailed the stances of Arab countries during the Arab summit that was held Wednesday in Jordan’s Dead Sea and stressed the Palestinian cause as the Arabs’ core issue. noting the importance of collective Arab work and solidarity to push towards solutions that would end the Arab-Israeli conflict and restore Palestinian rights in line with international legitimacy decisions.

Sabri reiterated that Palestine is not only for its people but rather for all Arabs and Muslims, which, he added, reflects Arab and Muslim interdependence based on firm common values and distinctive historic ties.

He commended the role of Qatar’s leadership, government and people in support of the Palestinian issue and to enhance the struggle of the Palestinian people by supporting the different institutions, entities and associations for the good of Palestine and in a way that reflects the excellent ties between the two fraternal countries.

The imam of Al Aqsa Mosque said that despite the Palestinian rejection of the occupation over the past decades, Israel continues to carry on with its arbitrary policies of Judaization, displacement, destruction, racism and killing in full disregard of the international community’s calls for peace initiatives and to halt its Judaization measures on the ground. “I do not see any seriousness in Israel’s handling of the various peace initiatives.” Palestinians celebrate the Land Day on Thursday with a central march starting from Deir Hanna village to combine with the march of Sakhnin and Arraba towards a central speech festival that stresses the struggle against occupation and call for ending it and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Marches also will are held across the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in parallel with 1948 occupied territories. A popular demonstration will also take place in front of Israeli Ofer Prison and another in Palestinian villages around the West Bank separation wall.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) issued a statement on Thursday accusing the Israeli occupation of exploiting more than 85 percent of the historic Palestinian land of 27,000 squared kilometers adding that there are only 48 percent Palestinians residents in Palestine. The statement also said that 40 percent of the land in the West Bank was converted into state land by Israel and took ownership of the land from Jordan after the occupation in 1967, which deprived Palestinians the right to their land.

The area of land reached in that time, about 527 thousand acres and by the end of 1973, the Israeli occupation authorities have added more than 160 thousand acres as a state land. Israeli occupation authorities has continued its policy which aimed at plundering the Palestinian land, the statement added.

In addition, the Israeli occupation authorities announced more than 900 thousand acres as a state land between the years 1979 to 2002. At the time that the Israeli occupation authorities demolished Palestinian buildings, and put obstacles to the issuance of building permits, they approved licenses to construct thousands of housing units in Israeli settlements on the Palestinian lands of Jerusalem. The occupation authorities also demolished about 309 buildings during the year 2016, in addition to issuing about 227 demolition orders. Whereas 48 percent of the built up area of Israeli settlements is done on Palestinian privately owned land.

There were 413 Israeli occupation constructions in the West Bank, including 150 settlements and 119 outposts by the end of 2015. Data findings indicate that the total number of settlers in the West Bank was 617,291 by the end of 2015, 292,555 of whom lived in Jerusalem governorate and 214,135 of them were living in Jerusalem J1 settlement. In demographic terms, the proportion of settlers to the Palestinian population in West Bank is around 21 settlers per 100 Palestinians compared to 69 settlers per 100 Palestinians in Jerusalem governorate.

Israeli occupation authorities demolished 1,023 houses and establishments in the West Bank, 309 of them in the Jerusalem governorate, and 714 in the rest of the governorates in West Bank. In addition to issuing 657 demolition orders, the demolitions led to the displacement of more than 1,620 Palestinian citizens, half of them are children, PCBS said.

Despite the small area of Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation set up a buffer zone over more than 1,500 meters along the eastern border of Gaza Strip. Consequently, the Israeli occupation usurps about 24 percent of the total area of Gaza strip, 365 squared kilometers, which is considered the most populous area in the world with about 5,000 people per square kilometers.

Land Day is celebrated yearly on 30th March to mark the day Israeli authorities confiscated thousands of acres of privately owned Palestinian land. Protests spread around Palestine which killed and injured many Palestinians and many others were arrested. Land Day is considered a vital transition for the conflict. (QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency

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