Palestinian killed during 'Land Day' rally


JERUSALEM – Israeli security forces shot a man dead in the Gaza Strip yesterday, medics said, and clashed with Palestinian stone-throwers around Jerusalem during “Land Day” rallies that turned violent.

Border police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at crowds of Palestinian youths who tried to break past checkpoints to the north and south of Jerusalem in co-ordinated protests to mark Israeli land confiscations in the 1970s.

Medics in the Gaza Strip said the soldiers used live fire to prevent protesters from approaching the border of the coastal enclave, killing a 20-year-old man and wounding 37 others.

Palestinian activists called for a “Global March to Jerusalem” to coincide with the 36th anniversary of so-called Land Day, and although there were rallies in Israel, police said crowd numbers were relatively small and the protest largely trouble-free.

Israeli forces were put on high alert on the frontiers with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of anyone nearing the frontier fences.

Violence flared at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank to the north and south of Jerusalem. Witnesses also reported disturbances at gateways into the Old City. A West Bank medic said 220 people were hurt in the clashes.

Jerusalem is a focal point of conflict as Palestinians want the city’s eastern sector, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, as the capital of a future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital and says the city must remain united. There were also confrontations in Bethlehem, where Palestinians threw petrol bombs at an Israeli watchtower. One man was critically wounded when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister, activists said.

Land Day commemorates the killing of six Arabs in 1976 during protests against the confiscation of their land in Israel’s Galilee region. – (Reuters)