A Palestinian woman protests in
occupied East Jerusalem on Land Day.
Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli security forces have fired rubber coated bullets, tear gas
and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian demonstrators
in the occupied West Bank as annual Land Day rallies turned
At least 121 people have been injured in clashes at the Qalandiya
checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Friday, mostly from
tear gas inhalation, Al Jazeera reported quoting medical sources.
Palestinian activists have called for a "Global March to
Jerusalem" to mark the day when Palestinian Israelis protest
against government policies that they say has stripped them of
Five medical workers were also reported to have been shot with
rubber coated bullets and one car was set ablaze.
Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reported that Israeli security forces tried
to push hundreds of protesters back toward the nearby West Bank
town of Ramallah, using water cannon and tear gas.
Rocks were thrown, tyres set alight and Red Crescent ambulances
could be seen at the scene.
"This is a place where we frequently see clashes, and what we're
seeing here is the Israeli army needing to put a barrier up and
not let people through," our correspondent said.
"These clashes seem to be a bit more fierce today, and have
started earlier in the day than usual."
Medics in the Gaza Strip said the Israelis also used live fire to
prevent protesters from nearing the frontier wall.
Israeli forces were put on high alert at frontier crossings with
Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of anyone nearing the
border fences, unlike last year when several demonstrators were
killed in separate protests.
However, violence flared at checkpoints in the West Bank to the
north and south of Jerusalem.
Witnesses also reported disturbances at gates leading into the Old
City, with police limiting access to the Muslims' revered al-Aqsa
A Reuters news agency reporter saw two men being carried away
injured after scuffles at Jerusalem's Lions' Gate, while police
said they had made five arrests at the Damascus Gate.
Jerusalem is a focal point of conflict, as Palestinians want the
city's eastern sector, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as
capital of a future state.
Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital and
insists the city remain united.
Six UN Security Council resolutions have denounced or declared
invalid Israel's control of the city.
"We are determined to march together toward Jerusalem, and
hopefully we will break through and reach it," said a masked
youth, calling himself Rimawi, as he faced off against soldiers in
Flag-waving crowds neared the Qalandiya crossing out of Ramallah,
some of them hurling stones at the security forces, but were
forced back when border police sprayed them with foul smelling
liquid from a water cannon.
There were also confrontations in Bethlehem, where Palestinians
hurled petrol bombs at an Israeli watchtower.
Other events were held in the northern West Bank city of Nablus,
were at least three people were wounded in clashes with the
Israeli border police, medical sources told Al Jazeera.
Land Day commemorates the killing by security forces of six Arabs
in 1976 during protests against government plans to confiscate
land in northern Israel's Galilee region.
Previous remembrances have mostly passed quietly, but Israel
decided to reinforce its defences following deadly clashes along
the Lebanese and Syrian borders in May that appeared to catch the
military off guard.
Palestinian organisers called for peaceful rallies against "the
policies and practices of the racist Zionist state" and said
solidarity protests were planned in some 80 nations.
"When crowds from 80 countries move towards Jerusalem, they send a
strong message to the Israeli occupation that no one can accept
what they are doing in Jerusalem," Ismail Haniyeh, the Gaza leader
of the Islamic group Hamas, said.
Israel is wary of growing unrest in the occupied Palestinian
Territories, with peace talks stalled for months and Palestinian
leaders refusing to return to the negotiating table until Israel
halts all Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.
Leading Palestinian activist Marwan Barghouti, serving multiple
life sentences in an Israeli jail for orchestrating suicide
attacks, called on Monday for a new wave of civil resistance in
the decades-long quest for statehood.
On high alert along its borders, police were also wary of possible
friction within the boundaries of Israel, where the Arab minority
was planning protests.
Arabs make up about a fifth of Israel's total population. Many
complain of discrimination.