BEIRUT: Shops and schools in Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon closed their doors Saturday to mark Land Day, an annual commemoration of the killing of six unarmed Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces in 1976.
From Ain al-Hilweh to Mieh Mieh, Rashidieh, Bass and Burj al-Shemali, thousands of Palestinian schoolchildren abstained from classes after the Palestinian Popular Committee in South Lebanon called for a national day of mourning and a general strike.
Mohammad al-Natour, a vendor at Ain al-Hilweh’s main vegetable market, told The Daily Star that while the economic situation was difficult, he felt it was important to close in order to commemorate Land Day.
Some 17 kilometers away from Lebanon's southern border, in Rashidieh, hundreds of people gathered to listen to a lecture about the events of March 30, 1976, when Palestinians rose up in protest of the Israeli occupation of their land and escalating land seizures.
Children wore traditional Palestinian keffiyehs and dresses, while dancers performed dabke.
Mohammad al-Bekaai, a media official from the Fatah Movement, told The Daily Star it was important to hold such celebrations “that remind us of Palestine.”
On Land Day last year, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip launched a series of weekly protests collectively dubbed the “Great March of Return” to demand the end of Israel’s siege on the tiny coastal enclave and remind the international community of Palestinians’ right of return under United Nations Resolution 194.
About 200 Palestinians have since been killed and thousands injured by Israeli fire at the protests, Gaza medics say.