Land Day protests in West Bank, Gaza Strip die down

1 killed, dozens injured in clashes; Police, border patrol arrest 34 pro-Palestinian activists during protests at Kalandiya, e. J'lem, Bethlehem; IDF: Real tests still to come on Nakba, Naksa, Prisoners' Days.

March 30, 2012 18:54
3 minute read.
Israeli forces in Kalandia

Israeli forces in Kalandia 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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One Palestinian was killed and dozens of pro-Palestinian activists were injured  when protests marking Land Day turned violent in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday.

Despite the widespread clashes between Israeli security personnel and pro-Palestinian protesters in the West Bank and Gaza, the IDF expressed satisfaction with the day's occurrences overall and indicated that none of the incidents were out of the ordinary.

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IDF Spokesperson Brig.- Gen Yoav Mordechai expressed satisfaction with how the army coped with the protests, saying that "overall, none of the incidents were out of the ordinary."

He added that IDF-PA security coordination helped contain the protests. Security forces in Palestinian cities did not allow the demonstrations to spread," he said.

With an eye to the future, Mordechai said that "the real test will come during the Nakba- and Naksa- Day protests as well as Prisoners' Day, which will be very tense.

On killed, dozens injured in Gaza

Adham Abu Salmiya, a spokesperson for the emergency medical services in Gaza, said that the 20-year-old Mahmoud Muhammad Zaqout was shot dead by IDF forces stationed near the border with Gaza.

The IDF confirmed the death of one Palestinian protester who was shot and killed after refusing to stop his approach towards the Israeli border.

The emergency services in Gaza stated that 37 people were injured, three seriously, in the protests. The IDF spokesperson's office stated that only 29 had been injured in Gaza.

The main Gaza protests took place in Beit Hanoun (Erez) and Khan Yunis.

Protesters clash with security forces in West Bank

Meanwhile, Israeli police and border patrol units arrested 34 activists on Friday in clashes that took place in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to commemorate the 36th annual Land Day. Palestinian activists and supporters held demonstrations in east Jerusalem and Bethlehem, while a demonstration at the Kalandiya checkpoint resulted in the injury of several of the activists.

Thousands of protesters assembled at Kalandiya near Jerusalem, with Palestinian youths hurling 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 Barghouti.

In Bethlehem, dozens of protesters threw 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."

Aharonovitch: Kalandia demonstration is "a show"

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.

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.

Amnesty International issued a condemnation of what it termed Israel's "excessive use of force" on Land Day protesters.

The organization's deputy director of Middle East and North Africa program said in a press statement that the the human-rights group was "extremely worried" by reports that the IDF was using live ammunition on protesters, "particularly in the light of frequent and persistent use of excessive force against Palestinian protesters."

Amnesty also condemned the PA for preventing protests and Hamas for beating up protesters, calling on them both to respect freedom of assembly.

Nida Tuma, Ben Hartman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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