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.

  • Jaba - 2012-03-30 17:26


      Jaba - 2012-03-30 17:28

      EVERY word was true it is now.

  • Anneck - 2012-03-30 20:56

    @Patrick, some FACTS you might consider before you go marching for the Palestinian cause: 1. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam. 2. Arab refugees began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades AFTER the establishment of the modern state of Israel. 3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years. 4. The only Arab domination since the conquest 635 BCE lasted no more than 22 years. 5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and arab leaders did not come to visit. 6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. 7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem. 8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem. 9. Arab and Jewish refugees: Arabs were NOT driven out of their homes. Following the UN decision on Partition in 1948, the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by ARAB LEADERS, promising to purge the land of Jews. They argued that an "Arab presence" would only get in the way of the planned devastation.

  • Anneck - 2012-03-30 21:13

    (continued) 68% left without EVER seeing an Israeli soldier. 10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to ARAB brutality, persecution and pogroms. 11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees absorbed by Israel from Arab countries is estimated to be the same. 12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs, is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples' lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than New Jersey. 13. The Arabs are represented by eight seperate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won. 14. The P.L.O.'s Charter still calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank and autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied their police and security forces with weapons. 15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sights were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Jewish grave markers were used to build public urinals in occupied Jerusalem.

  • Anneck - 2012-03-30 21:35

    (continued) Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths. 16. The UN record on Israel and the Arabs of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel - notwithstanding the fact that the Arabs refused to participate in the 15 nation United Nations Commission of Palestine which recommended partition in 1948 and sought immediately to undo it's work by force of arms. 17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel. 18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians between 1948 and 1967. 19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives between 1948 and 1967. 20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall between 1948 and 1967. The Un remains silent when Palestinian militants fire rockets into Israel, with intention to kill Israeli civilians. The UN cries foul when Israel retaliates. The UN remains silent when a Palestinian woman blows herself up in a crowded Israeli market place. The UN cries foul when Israel sets up counter measures, defending itself again suicide bombers (which just HAPPEN to be PALESTINIAN WOMEN AND CHILDREN).

  • Anneck - 2012-03-30 21:40

    (continued) The UN remains silent while the Iranian president publicly calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map". The UN cries foul when Israel voices it's intention to bomb Irans nuclear sites in defence against the making of a nuclear weapon designed for use against Israel! The UN cries foul when Israel builds settlements in it's own city of Jerusalem! Etc, etc, etc!!!!

  • Jaba - 2012-03-31 06:40

    Israel wants peace! Israel quiere la paz! Israƫl veut la paix!

  • Anneck - 2012-03-31 10:53

    The Palestinians subtly hide behind propaganda as cover for their REAL intentions: to muscle their way into Israel and drive all the Israelis out! Pure and simple!

  • Martin - 2012-03-31 16:03

    There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. All of them are Arabs. The Arab world is 650 times the size of Israel, but now the TINY Israel is a BIG problem for them. Why? The only logical conclusion is that they are against the existence of Israel as the Jewish state.

  • Anneck - 2012-04-01 10:07

    In short Patrick, even before Israel was declared a state in 1948, the Jews have been in that area going back into Biblical times!

  • Anneck - 2012-04-01 10:12

    And Patrick, whether you like it or not, this has everything to do with religion. This is based on the hatred Muslims have for Jews (the "Zionists").

      Larry - 2012-04-01 11:47

      Point is, that Jews have reasons to hate Muslims, while Muslims have no reason to hate Jews. Israel more than tolerates Muslims to practice their religion within Israel, protected by a democratic constitution, whereas no Jew may even reside in most Islamic countries nevemind worship in a synagogue. Between 1948 and 1967 Jordan destroyed and desecrated synagogues and jewish cemetries in east Jerusalem. Can you see the difference?

      Larry - 2012-04-01 13:51

      Patrick, I am not talking about religion. I am referring to tolerance of one group of people for another.

      Larry - 2012-04-01 21:37

      Erm, Patrick, as per above, I said "Israel has no reason NOT to want peace". I dont mean to make a fool of you, but you need to be corrected - and go easy on the sauce when blogging.

      Larry - 2012-04-02 20:45

      Patrick, if you can explain to me how a fool can measure intelligence then I will bow to your superior intelligence.

  • Anneck - 2012-04-01 13:21

    Patrick, while religion would not resolve anything, what do you suggest? Israel just give up their land and cities to the Palestinians? Because that's exactly what the Palestinians want; Palestine becomes a recognised state one day but it will not end when all of Israel is taken over and all Israeli people are driven out! THEN what would your tune be? Unfortunately for you Patrick you have taken the road more travelled on if you get my meaning. Although Israel and it's allies are few, Islam will not prevail, or any other anti Israeli nation!

      Larry - 2012-04-01 18:15

      Only the Arab and Palestinian leadership is pathetic, driven to make the same mistake after mistake in taking on Israel. Their humiliation, time and again, is compounded to the point that they are so weak, and that they cannot man-up and accept their defeat. Their Islam and national integrity is made to bow to Israel's power and dominance and this makes them sick in a pathalogical extent. No wonder they keep on running full tilt into a brick wall. Stupid people with idiot leadership.

      Anneck - 2012-04-01 21:28

      Patrick, Israel was ALWAYS there. Even before 1948. So was Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan (Arab states)... No Palestine!

      Larry - 2012-04-01 21:42

      Oh, I forgot to add: - and the idiot people who support them. Really Patrick, you are not debating. You are baring your teeth like a cornered rat. You have nothing.

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