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Palestinian killed in Gaza rally

March 30, 2012 6:21 P.M. (Updated: March 31, 2012 10:38 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli fire killed one young Palestinian man and injured over 30 others in clashes at two sites in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian medical official said Friday evening.

Adham Abu Salmiya identified the victim as Mahmoud Zakot, 20. He was shot and killed near the Erez crossing, the official said.

Thirty-one others in the Erez area were injured and taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital. In Khan Younis, six people were hospitalized.

Three people were critically injured, Abu Salmiya added.

Medics said the Israeli army used live fire to prevent protesters from approaching frontier barriers in the small coastal territory.

An Israeli army spokesman said a Palestinian man approached the Erez crossing before soldiers opened fire. Forces acted within the rules of engagement, firing warning shots before directly targeting him, he said.

The military official said 23 people were injured in the Erez area and six more in Khan Younis.

Hamas forces had set up checkpoints to prevent protesters reaching the border area, but many of the activists bypassed them, an activist who attended protests in Beit Hanoun said.

Ebaa Rezeq says she witnessed at least six of the injuries which came after Israeli forces fired on a crowd that arrived at the border area.

Rezeq says Israeli forces used live fire after they managed to remove a part of a metal fence near the wall.

"People are falling here like flies," she wrote on Twitter. "Blood everywhere".

A young Palestinian protester in Bethlehem, meanwhile, was seriously injured on Friday afternoon after being hit in the face by a tear-gas canister, a Ma'an correspondent said.

Muhammad Arafa, 20, was taken to hospital in Hebron. He was injured when Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at Palestinians who threw stones at a checkpoint in a rally marking Land Day.

Two other people have been seriously injured, the head of the Red Crescent in Bethlehem reported. Eleven people were hospitalized in total at a demonstration outside an Israeli checkpoint.

Activists had called for the Global March to Jerusalem to commemorate the Land Day anniversary of Israel's killing of six Palestinians protesting against land confiscation in 1976. Thousands rallied at checkpoints around Jerusalem and in Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan.

Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades, sprayed foul-smelling water and used a "scream" acoustic device against stone-throwing Palestinians at Qalandia near Ramallah.

Red Crescent spokesman Muhammad Ayyad told Ma'an that medics treated 249 protesters at Qalandiya and 20 were transferred to hospital.

Israeli forces injured nine medics and damaged three ambulances at the protest, he added.

Over 15,000 people gathered in Kafrein in Jordan, around 10 kilometers from the border with the West Bank, Agence France-Presse reported.

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

Previous Land Day remembrances have mostly passed quietly, but Israel decided to reinforce its defenses this year following deadly clashes along the Lebanese and Syrian borders in May and June that appeared to catch the military off guard.

Protest organizers called for peaceful rallies Friday 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," said Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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