At least fourteen people have been arrested following clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police and defense forces in Kalandia, a Palestinian village located in the West Bank.
Palestinian protesters threw rocks, firebombs and burning tires at Israeli security forces, who responded with tear gas, stun grenades and sound weapons.
Israeli officials had been braced for the demonstrations on the so-called annual “Land Day” protests in which Palestinians commemorate a general strike called in 1976 in response to Israel’s plan to annex thousands of acres of land for “settlement and security purposes.” The ensuing clashes led to the deaths of six Arabs and hundreds of arrests.
In anticipation of Friday’s protests, the Jerusalem Post reported, Israeli authorities closed off the West Bank, restricted access to the Temple Mount and set up checkpoints near the Lebanese border.
Land Day protests were also reported in Bethlehem, Hebron, Nabi Saleh, Budrus and other towns. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli military fired warning shots at Palestinian protesters who approached the Erez Crossing which is now closed.
Lana Hamadeh, a Palestinian from Canada and a delegate in the ‘Canadian Global March to Jerusalem’ mission, told the Jerusalem Post that she and other protesters are demanding the right of return for Palestinians and the protection of Jerusalem.
Non-Jewish holy sites are at risk and the city itself is being ethnically cleansed, she added.
We are asking for our right to re-enter Jerusalem and reclaim it for everyone, not just for Jews.
The Haaretz newspaper of Israel reported that the Lebanese army also imposed strict security measures at its southern border, establishing police checkpoints, while the UN’s Interim Forces in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) upgraded their patrols in the area.
Reportedly, Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah have all endorsed the protests.
More than 5,000 are expected to attend the non-violent march which is aimed at supporting our Palestinian people, Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas in Lebanon told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).