6 Israeli Arabs Killed in Land Protests
Israeli police in Nazareth on March 30, 1976 (Credit: National Photo Collection of Israel)
March 30, 1976

Protests against the recently announced expropriation of Arab land in the Galilee turn into riots that result in the deaths of six Israeli Arabs and injuries to hundreds of Arab civilians and to an unknown number of Israeli soldiers and police. The events become known as “Land Day” and are commemorated annually with mostly peaceful protests of Israeli land-use policies.

The riots develop from a general strike called by Arab leaders after the government announced that it would seize 6,000 dunams (about 1,500 acres) to expand Jewish settlements and military bases. The government tries to limit the protests by issuing a curfew the night before and by deploying thousands of police and soldiers.

Most of the protests, particularly in urban centers such as Nazareth, are peaceful, but the situation deteriorates in a few villages in the central Galilee when teenagers attack an army convoy and police patrols.

The protests and violence reflect years of frustration over unequal development and treatment. For example, Arabs are not allowed to buy apartments or open shops in towns such as Carmiel that will grow through the land expropriations.

Land Day marks the first widespread protests by Israeli Arabs and leads to increased voting by Arabs in Israeli elections and closer ties to Palestinians outside Israel.