40 wounded in ‘Naksa Day’ clashes near Jerusalem

Protesters throw rocks, Molotov cocktails, and burning tires at IDF; "We are Generation Oslo, we’re sick of negotiations," protester says.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
June 5, 2011 19:11
3 minute read.
Gaza police hold back protesters at Erez crossing

Hamas policemen Palestinian Gaza protes_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Roughly 250 Palestinians demonstrated at the Kalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Sunday, the anniversary, on the Gregorian calendar, of the day in 1967 that the Six Day War began.

Palestinians refer to June 5 as “Naksa Day,” “the Day of the Setback.”

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The demonstrators tried to cross into Green Line Israel by foot around noon, and threw rocks, gasoline bombs and burning tires at the soldiers and border police.

After the attempt to force Kalandiya, the rioters were pushed north about half a kilometer on the Jerusalem-Ramallah highway by soldiers using tear gas and shock grenades.

According to Palestinian news reports, at least 40 people were treated for tear gas inhalation and two were seriously injured. One policeman was lightly wounded by a rock and treated on the scene. A Jerusalem Post photographer was also lightly injured in the leg by a rock.

The checkpoint, which serves approximately 24,000 people per day, was closed to almost all traffic during the demonstrations.



Dozens of young Arabs carried signs reading “To Jerusalem We Go!” and “Facebook Status: Free Palestine,” while the clashes got more violent farther away from the checkpoint. There were fewer demonstrators than the hundreds who turned out on May 15’s “Nakba Day,” when Palestinians marked what they call the “Catastrophe” of the state’s founding in 1948.

“We are Generation Oslo, we’re sick of negotiations,” said Zaid, a 20-year-old Ramallah resident, at Kalandiya, amid burning tires and heavy tear gas. “This is direct confrontation. We don’t sit at tables.”

The march’s goal was to reach the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. “We invited everyone to come here with spirits high... to check and see whether people are allowed to go to Jerusalem to pray,” said Amra, a 24- year-old resident of Ramallah who works in marketing.

Amra said this was the first year she could recall “Naksa Day” demonstrations. In previous years, the demonstrations were centered around “Nakba Day,” but the “growing intensity of the occupation” was forcing more Palestinians to the streets, she said.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, who came in second to Mahmoud Abbas in the 2005 Palestinian Authority presidential election, with 19 percent of the vote, told the Post that Sunday’s Naksa demonstrations were the second wave of protests, after the Nakba demonstrations, before the declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN in September. The next wave of demonstrations will be on July 9, Barghouti said, the anniversary of a nonbinding 2004 opinion by the UN’s International Court of Justice that said the West Bank security barrier was illegal.

“We’ve tried negotiations, now the UN is part of our diplomatic resistance,” said Barghouti, a distant cousin of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and the secretary-general of the Palestine National Initiative, an independent political party for politicians not aligned with Hamas or Fatah.

Barghouti added that the protests across the Arab world affected Palestinians deeply. “We did inspire the Arab people for many years, now they are inspiring our young people,” he said.

In Jerusalem, Arabs clashed with border policemen in Silwan and Abu Tur, and seven people were arrested for throwing rocks.

In Hebron, Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at a kindergarten in Beit Hadassah. The children were brought inside and no injuries were reported.

Also in the West Bank, about 40 Palestinians and left-wing activists marched toward the Elon Moreh settlement and tried to break through its gate. Protesters set a small fire, which was extinguished, and were dispersed.

In Ramallah, 200 protesters gathered in Manara Square. Hundreds of Gazans also marched in commemoration of the “Naksa” in Beit Hanun.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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