Clashes as Palestinians mark Land Day

2012-03-30 15:00
Jerusalem - Thousands of Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli troops at a West Bank checkpoint on Friday as hundreds more gathered by Jerusalem's Old City to mark Land Day.

Rallies were also held by refugee communities in neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon to mark the annual event that commemorates the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli forces during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

Tensions were high at the Qalandia checkpoint, just north of Jerusalem, as a handful of masked Palestinian youths hurled rocks and set tyres alight, with Israeli troops firing a barrage of teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up the protest.

Troops also fired a foul-smelling liquid called "skunk" into the crowd, an AFP correspondent said. Palestinian medics said around 30 people had been treated for teargas inhalation.

At least a dozen rallies were held across Israel and the occupied territories, with demonstrators also marching towards the Israeli border in Lebanon and Jordan.

"There is a riot taking place at Qalandia. Rioters are throwing stones at the IDF [Israel Defence Force] and burning tyres, and the IDF is responding with riot dispersal means," a military spokesperson said.

Four arrested

In annexed Arab east Jerusalem, around 400 demonstrators waving huge Palestinian flags gathered outside the Old City near Damascus Gate, sparking scuffles with hundreds of watching police, an AFP correspondent said. Police said they had made several arrests.

Another hundred or so people gathered by Lion's Gate, where police arrested four people, and another two were treated by medics after being injured by police batons, another AFP correspondent said.

In Lebanon, to the north, hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian refugees gathered near the historic Beaufort Castle.

"Jerusalem, here we come," roadside banners proclaimed. "Land Day is the day when we rededicate ourselves to the right of return," claimed by the diaspora communities but rejected by Israel.

The main Land Day march was to take place in the Arab Israeli town of Deir Hanna in Galilee, with another march scheduled in the southern Negev desert.

In anticipation of mass protests, the Israeli army imposed a 24-hour closure on the occupied territories late on Thursday, barring Palestinians from entering Israel excepted for humanitarian reasons or medical emergencies.

Past incidents

Israeli police chief Yohanan Danino urged Arab community leaders to "prevent extremists from causing provocations".

Police also imposed an age limit on worshippers attending the main weekly Muslim prayers at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, barring all men except residents over the age of 45. There was no restriction on women.

Israel is hoping to avoid the bloody confrontations that took place last May when thousands gathered along Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria on Nakba Day to protest on the anniversary of Israel's creation in 1948.

Troops opened fire on protesters trying to breach the armistice line from Syria and Lebanon, killing 11 and wounding hundreds, according to UN figures. More than 120 people were also injured by gunfire in similar protests in northern Gaza.

A month later, at least 10 people were killed and hundreds injured in the occupied Golan Heights when Syrian protesters tried to cross onto the Israeli side on Naksa Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day-War, when Israel seized the territories.

On Friday, police and soldiers in the Golan were deployed next to the Kuneitra crossing and in the Majdal Shams area, while along the Lebanese border, forces fanned out around the Metulla crossing, press reports said.

Thousands sit in

Troops were also deployed in the Jordan Valley where thousands protested near the Allenby Crossing.

More than 15 000 people, including opposition Islamists and trade unionists as well as Palestinians, gathered for a sit-in in Kafrein about 10km from the crossing and barely a kilometre and a half  from the frontier.

"Security presence is normal. It's a peaceful sit-in and everything is under control," a security official in Jordan said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    jordan  |  palestine  |  lebanon  |  israel  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Boks more focused after Japan shock
Ireland recall Toner, Healy for France
LIVE: New Zealand v Tonga
Pumas, Namibia make 11 changes each
Traffic Alerts

It is always easier to notice the faults in others rather than face our own. Focusing too much on the perfect and ideal more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.