24 hurt in Nakba Day clashes

2011-05-15 13:30

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Ramallah - At least 24 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police and the army on Sunday as thousands protested the "nakba" of Israel's 1948 creation, medics said.

Five Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets as heavy clashes erupted near the Qalandiya crossing between Ramallah and annexed east Jerusalem, where thousands of people had gathered for a protest, medical sources said.

As youngsters hurled stones, troops responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, hitting one of the demonstrators in the head, who was understood to be in a serious condition, medics and an AFP correspondent said.

An Israeli army spokesperson said there were "around 200 people, who were engaged in rioting" with border police trying to break up the disturbance.

Nineteen people were also wounded, three of them seriously, in northern Gaza where Israeli troops opened fire on several dozen youngsters who had marched towards the border and begun throwing stones at the soldiers.

High alert

Emergency services spokesperson Adham Abu Selimya said most of the injured were youngsters between the ages of 12 and 17 who sustained moderate injuries from a tank shell and gunfire.

More than 3 000 police and border police were on high alert across the country on Sunday as Palestinians and Arab Israelis staged a series of events to mark the anniversary of Israel's founding in 1948, commonly referred to in Arabic as the "nakba" or "catastrophe".

Troops were also on alert across the Palestinian territories for any disturbances linked to the anniversary.

In annexed east Jerusalem, clashes broke out in Issawiya, with youths throwing stones and hurling Molotov cocktails at police, who arrested three of them, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that one policeman was slightly injured.

Further south, at least 200 people marched through Al-Walaja, a village which straddles the Bethlehem-Jerusalem border, waving black flags and Palestinian flags, shouting: "Go away, go away! We don't want to see the Zionists," an AFP correspondent said.

Arrests

In Tel Aviv, police were investigating after a truck driven by a 22-year-old Arab Israeli ploughed into a bus and at least four cars, killing one person and injuring another five.

It was not immediately clear whether it was an accident or whether the driver had been acting on nationalist motives, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said.

Overnight, police detained 13 Palestinians following demonstrations in east Jerusalem, raising to 63 the total number arrested since Friday, Rosenfeld said, adding that eight police officers had been injured.

And the army said it had imposed a 24-hour lockdown on the occupied territories which would end at midnight. Until then, only humanitarian cases would be allowed to cross from Palestinian areas into Israel, a statement said.

Since Friday, stone-throwing youths and police have been locked in clashes across east Jerusalem as Palestinians staged a series of protests in the run-up to Sunday's anniversary.

Milad Said Ayyash, 16, was critically wounded by a bullet to the stomach during confrontations in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Silwan, with a relative telling AFP he had been shot by a Jewish settler.

Exile

He died early on Saturday and was buried several hours later in a graveyard outside the Old City.

Police spoke of a youngster being "lightly" wounded from "unknown" causes but insisted no live ammunition had been used. They said the family had refused to allow a post-mortem.

Israel celebrated the 63rd anniversary of its creation on Tuesday, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

More than 760 000 Palestinians - estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants - were pushed into exile or driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel's creation.

At least 160 000 Palestinians stayed behind and are now known as Arab Israelis. They number around 1.3 million people, or some 20% of Israel's population.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel
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