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Land Day in Gaza: Six marches, dozens injured

March 30, 2010 6:02 P.M. (Updated: April 1, 2010 10:03 A.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Men and women from Gaza marched toward the Israeli-imposed buffer-zone on Monday, marking Land Day and the effective confiscation of 20% of arable land in Gaza.

Locals said dozens of Palestinians sustained injuries when Israeli forces opened fire on marches across Gaza, as Palestinians continued to challenge the restricted access to agricultural land.

Marches beginning as early as December increased in frequency over the last month, culminating in a wide-scale event marking the 34th anniversary of Land Day in which six Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations protesting land confiscation.

During the commemoration, where Palestinians again protested land confiscations, witnesses said Israeli troops opened fire directly at protesters east of Khan Younis and the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in southern Gaza.

An Israeli military spokesman said several rallies took place in the southern Gaza Strip during the day, with protesters "knowingly present" in an area prohibited to Palestinians. He said an investigation showed "soldiers operated in accordance with accepted dispersal procedures," and said investigations were ongoing into "apparent injuries" reported.

The marches were organized by the Popular Committee Against the Buffer Zone in Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza, and Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya to the north.

Mahmud Az-Zaq, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Buffer Zone, said six peaceful marches were launched at the same time across all Gaza districts, heading toward Israel.

"We are 200 meters from the border, with groups of young men heading the marches, waving Palestinian flags," he said.

Walid Al-Awad, member of the Palestine People's Party's politburo, said hundreds of Palestinians participated in the march to confirm that the Palestinian people are united against Israel's occupation.

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