Thousands of Palestinians, Arab Israelis mark 'Land Day'

An Arab Israeli girl waves the Palestinian flag during a rally commemorating Land Day on March 30, 2016 in the northern Israeli village of Arrabe (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli) (AFP)

Arraba (Israël) (AFP) - Thousands of Palestinians and Arab Israelis gathered on Wednesday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Land Day" marking the killing of six Arab Israelis protesting plans to confiscate Arab land.

In the northern Israeli town of Arraba, they waved Palestinian flags and banners that read, "The earth is the homeland" before observing a minute's silence in memory of the "martyrs" of 1976.

That was the year that Israeli police and troops shot dead six Arab Israeli protesters on March 30 during mass demonstrations against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

The High Follow-up Committee, the main representative organisation for Arabs in Israel, had called for a strong turnout in Arraba and the southern Negev region, where about 1,000 people gathered.

"Land Day is a central starting point in our struggle against racial discrimination and the policy of uprooting which was launched during the Nakba and still endures today," the committee said.

Its statement was referring to the "Nakba", or "catastrophe" that befell them when Israel was established in 1948.

"We are also witnessing an escalation of persecution and violence and restriction of freedoms," it added.

Dozens of people also took part in similar rallies in the occupied West Bank, including Hebron and Nablus.