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Clashes in Hebron as Israel boosts security for Land Day

March 29, 2013 8:12 P.M. (Updated: March 31, 2013 1:48 P.M.)
HEBRON (AFP) -- Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday as Israel deployed significant security reinforcements ahead of a day of demonstrations.

Palestinian security forces in Hebron said that hundreds of people took part in two demonstrations, one inside the city and one south of it, and threw stones at Israeli security forces who responded with tear gas and dyed water.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told AFP that "150 Palestinians threw stones at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means."

Both sides said there were no arrests or injuries.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces broke up a rally south of Hebron demanding that a main road connecting several villages be reopened.

Israel shut down a road connecting Hebron, Adh-Dhahiriya, As-Samu, Dura and al-Fawwar refugee camp 12 years ago.

A Palestinian teenager was hit by a tear gas canister during the clashes and dozens of local and international activists were injured by heavy tear gas fire.

Demonstrators chanted slogans commemorating Land Day and supporting Palestinian prisoners, spokesman for a local committee in south Hebron Ratib al-Jabour told Ma'an.

Weekly demonstrations also took place near Bilin and Nilin. An 80-year-old international activist was injured in Bilin after being shot in the hand by a rubber-coated bullet, while other protesters suffered tear gas inhalation, locals said.

In Jerusalem, some 5,000 Palestinians participated in Friday prayers.

Six people were injured trying to access the al-Aqsa mosque, a Ma'an reporter said. Jamal Kabaja, 54, and his son Muhammad, 18, were evacuated to hospital after Israeli forces assaulted them en route to the mosque compound.

Medics told Ma'an that a steel police barrier fell over and fractured a man's finger. Another person suffered a dislocated knee after being hit by Israeli police clubs and a man was hit in the chest and evacuated to hospital, medics added.

An elderly man suffered fractures to his pelvis and leg after an Israeli policeman on a horse pushed him while walking to the mosque compound, witnesses said.

Palestinian journalist Muhammad Abu Sneineh, 22, was arrested by Israeli forces near Jerusalem's Chain Gate.

Earlier, thousands of police reinforcements were deployed in Jerusalem "following information that groups of Palestinians were ready to engage in violent demonstrations" during Land Day commemorations on Saturday, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

The annual demonstration marks the deaths of six Palestinian protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass protests in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

Samri said that security had also been strengthened at the main checkpoints between annexed east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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