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Jordan police say 25 hurt in Nakba clashes

May 16, 2011 7:29 A.M. (Updated: May 17, 2011 10:51 A.M.)
AMMAN, Jordan (AFP) - Jordan's public security department said on Monday that 25 people, including 11 policemen, were injured in clashes when authorities barred demonstrators from marching on the Israeli-controlled border of the occupied West Bank.

"Three policemen are still in hospital and one of them is in serious condition, after he was run over by a demonstrator. Others who were injured in the clashes on Sunday have left the hospital," a department statement said.

Police on Sunday barred more than 500 people from marching on the border to mark the 1948 creation of Israel -- when 760,000 Palestinians were forced or fled from their homes in an event known in Arabic as the "nakba" or "catastrophe".

The demonstrators, including 200 students, were intercepted a few kilometers from the King Hussein crossing, or Allenby Bridge, on the Jordan River that defines the frontier with the Israeli-occupied West Bank, less than an hour's drive from Amman.

"Some demonstrators provoked police with their chants, while others tried to break the security cordon to cross the border, throwing stones and water bottles at police," the statement said.

"The police had to use tear gas and the suitable force to disperse them," it said, adding that 11 people were arrested for attempting to cross Allenby Bridge.

On Saturday, police prevented a group of students calling themselves "the May 15 Youths" from marching on the border, which Israel controls.

Jordan's Islamist opposition movement condemned the crackdown.

"The attack by police on peaceful protesters who were stressing the commitment of Jordanians to the Palestinian right of return was shocking," the powerful Islamic Action Front said in a statement.

"We condemn the attack, which is part of government policies to impose its will on the people, and we demand an end to such policies that have harmed Jordan's image," said the IAF, the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood.

Jordan, where nearly half of the 6.3 million population is of Palestinian origin, signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

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