Hundreds protest during Land Day in Jerusalem
PA lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti injured; police: Event ‘relatively quiet’ compared to what we prepared for.
Border police use pepper spray as they detain man Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters
Jerusalem was the focal point of the 36th annual Land Day protests on Friday as
hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated at the Kalandiya checkpoint and a number
of places in east Jerusalem.
The event also coincided with the Global
March to Jerusalem, an international protest from pro-Palestinian groups that
organized simultaneous solidarity marches in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and
some European capitals.
About 100 Arabs protested next to the Damascus
Gate at the Old City, the closest entrance to the Aksa Mosque, and tried to
march to the entrance. Seventeen demonstrators were arrested as security forces
dealt with sporadic rock throwing and stopped the march.
was injured in the clashes. There were no incidents in the Aksa Mosque plaza.
Isolated incidents of rock throwing also occurred inside the Old City and at the
entrance to Isawiya but there were no injuries or damage caused.
youth were detained for questioning in Isawiya when they were caught throwing
stones at a patrol of border police.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch visited the Kalandiya checkpoint, the scene of the most serious
clashes, and called Palestinian demonstration taking place there a
“They are throwing stones, and we are responding,” he
After the protests wound down, Israel Police spokesman Micky
Rosenfeld said the Land Day events passed in “relative quiet,” compared to
preparations for rioting. Thousands of police were deployed in east Jerusalem
alone, with thousands of additional troops deployed across the North in
preparation for mass demonstrations.
“Constant security assessments were
made throughout the day, and considering the expectations of the possibility of
disturbances... on the borders things were quiet and inside Israel things were
quiet, aside from a few sporadic incidents,” said Rosenfeld.
On the Palestinian territory side of the Kalandiya checkpoint, the protest
started around noon with a small group of youths hurling rocks and Molotov
cocktails at security forces.
Initially, the horde of international media
vastly outnumbered the protesters by a ratio of approximately 10 to
The protest continued for more than four hours as police and
soldiers tried to disperse the 500 protesters massed a few blocks from the
Riot police pushed the youth back in the direction of
Ramallah, using crowd dispersal methods such as stun grenades, “the Scream,”
tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon that sprays a smelly substance
called “the Skunk.”
Meher Solaie, a volunteer with the Palestinian
Medical Relief Society, said that medics treated about 100 people during the
protest for injuries sustained from rubber bullets and tear gas.
of the injured protesters were transferred to clinics and hospitals for
additional treatment, and the rest were treated on the scene.
added that it was a “normal” amount of injuries for a protest of this size. Ten
Palestinian ambulances and around 60 volunteers were on duty for the
Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary- general
of the Palestine National Initiative, was injured when a tear gas canister hit
him in the head and the back and was evacuated to Ramallah by
“The world must see that this is becoming the beginning of a
Palestinian Arab Spring,” Barghouti told The Jerusalem Post by phone from the
hospital. “The cause of freedom is the same everywhere, you can’t have freedom
in Egypt without freedom in Palestine.”
Barghouti added that this was the
largest Land Day march at Kalandiya that he could remember in recent years, and
that a number of additional protests were planned during the
Among the participants were the Palestinian Social Affairs
Minister Majida al- Masri, PA-appointed governor of Jerusalem Adnan al-
Husseini, and Fadwa Barghouti, wife of the prisoner Marwan Barghouti.
one point, a fight broke out between the Palestinian protesters as they were
heading to the checkpoint. On the other side of the street, Palestinians
shouted: “What is this? What are they doing?” Ambulances drove through to
disperse the crowd, which used the wooden flag poles to hit each
Witnesses told the Post that the reason the fight broke out was
that Barghouti and his party members led the march and didn’t wait for other
protesters to participate as they were still praying.
In a statement, the
Palestinian police announced that it is investigating the assault on the
ambulance treating Barghouti after he was hit by a gas canister in the head. The
IDF denied that Barghouti was hit by the gas canister.
chanted patriotic slogans and voiced “Allahu Akbar” [God is great]. Some men
were covering their faces with masks. One of them told the Post he was masked
out of fear of being arrested.
Several Facebook posts on Friday and
Saturday discussed the failure of political parties to gather more people to
participate in Land Day protests.
Palestinian-Canadian Lana Hamadeh
attended the protest as one of nine delegates from 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
“Non-Jewish holy sites are at risk and the city itself is
being ethnically cleansed,” she said during a break in the clashes. “We are
asking for our right to re-enter Jerusalem and reclaim it for everyone, not just