Border Police clash with Palestinians at Kalandiya 370.
(photo credit:REUTERS/Darren Whiteside )
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch visited the Kalandiya checkpoint on Friday, calling a rowdy Palestinian demonstration taking place there a "show."
"They are throwing stones, and we are responding," Aharonovitch said, adding that the protest at Kalandiya is the only demonstration still underway. Sporadic clashes were nonetheless reported in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.
Thousands of Palestinian protesters assembled at the Kalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem in order to stage demonstrations marking the 36th annual Land Day.
Palestinian youths hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces, who responded by firing tear gas, stun grenades, sound weapons and foul-smelling water to disperse the protesters.
A large number of protesters arrived at the checkpoint from Ramallah. A number of protesters were injured and taken to local hospitals for treatment. Israel Radio reported that those taken to hospital were lightly injured. Among the injured was Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Bargouti.
Lana Hamadeh, a Palestinian-Canadian from Ottawa, listed demands being made as part of the protest. One of nine delegates in the Canadian Global March to Jerusalem mission, Hamadeh said she and other protesters were demanding "the right of return for Palestinians and the protection of Jerusalem."
"Non-Jewish holy sites are at risk and the city itself is being ethnically cleansed," she told The Jerusalem Post. "We are asking for our right to re-enter Jerusalem and reclaim it for everyone, not just for Jews."
Aharonovitch also said that protesters were throwing stones at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jerusalem police said that 14 people had been arrested throughout the city, including in a protest at the Damascus Gate that police dispersed.
In Bethlehem, dozens of protesters were throwing stones at an IDF checkpoint after breaking through a line of Palestinian police. IDF troops responded to stone throwers at the Rachel Checkpoint outside Bethlehem with large quantities of tear gas..
Earlier, PA security forces had blocked the protesters from approaching the checkpoint. The protesters stopped in front of the Palestinian police and sat in the road, chanting: "To Jerusalem, we will march."
Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino arrived in the North Friday afternoon to inspect the deployment of officers. Police said no unusual incidents took place in the North.
Israel Police deployed large numbers of police and border police forces in and around Moshav Avivim near the Lebanese border Friday morning, ahead of the expected demonstrations. Security forces set up checkpoints to prevent protesters from encroaching on the Lebanese border, where at least 10 people were killed in clashes that erupted during last years Nakba Day commemorations.
A chief superintendent in the police's Northern District said the preparations were designed with lessons learned from the deadly events last year. Police were prepared for crowd control, armed with tear gas and riot gear.
Police said they were coordinating with the army, who was in turn coordinating with the United Nations in Lebanon.
In addition, police came armed with a general's order that gives them the authority to prevent people from reaching the border in the case that clashes break out. Police did not begin stopping movement in the border area but said they were prepared to do so.
Protesters gathered in Israel neighboring countries on Friday for
demonstrations marking the 36th annual Land Day, including in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Thousands of people attended these protests, but they were largely contained by relevant security forces and did not deteriorate into violence.
Earlier Friday, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz toured the West Bank and Syrian border ahead of the planned protests.
JPost.com staff, Ben Hartman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.
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