In Gaza’s northern Beit Hanoun region, Palestinians, led by women, marched to land in the Israel-imposed “buffer zone” to tend the remaining trees and proclaim their right to the land. The area once flourished with olive, lemon, orange, guava and almond trees, in the years before Israeli invasions razed them to the ground, simultaneously razing history and life. Following Isreal’s latest bout of destruction upon Gaza, most sources cite 60,000-75,000 dunams (1 dunam is 1,000 square metres) of fertile, cultivable land as having been destroyed by Israeli tanks and bulldozers. In Gaza’s perimeter areas, the “buffer zone” annexes land to Israel, gobbling up rich soil which had served Gaza’s agricultural needs. As of the last attacks on Gaza, as much as 60 % of the agriculture industry has been destroyed by Israel, further rendering Gazans aid-dependent.
Yet, again despite the gravity of the bleak situation Palestinians are facing, all over Palestine, on Land Day their voices were loud in protest, in defiance, and in joy. Organized by Beit Hanoun’s Local Initiative, a group leading agricultural and social projects in the northern region, Land Day celebrants sang, danced Dabke, tended their trees, and celebrated being on their land. On any given normal day, most of the residents would hesitate to go to this border region area due to the Israeli soldiers’ shooting which routinely erupts dangerously close to anyone on the land.