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Israeli troops open fire at protesters as Palestinians mark Land Day

March 30, 2013 2:02 P.M. (Updated: April 3, 2013 10:48 A.M.)
QALQILIYA (Ma’an) – Clashes erupted Saturday between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the northern West Bank village of Jayyus east of Qalqiliya, witnesses said.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that hundreds of Palestinians gathered in agricultural lands west of Jayyus to plant trees commemorating Land Day before Israeli troops stormed the area.

The soldiers fired tear-gas canisters at the Palestinians who in return hurled stones at the soldiers. Dozens were hurt as they inhaled tear gas, according to onlookers.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said security forces were responding to rock-hurling, and she said two soldiers were lightly injured by rocks. She was unaware of any Palestinian casualties.

Israeli forces have deployed heavily across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since Friday preparing to disperse demonstrations in Palestinian cities and villages in commemoration of Land Day.

In Ramallah in the central West Bank, young Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces near Qalandiya checkpoint which separates Ramallah and Jerusalem.

A Ma’an reporter said Israeli soldiers heavily fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets, hurting several Palestinians.

In Bethlehem, activists commemorated Land Day near Rachel's Tomb raising Palestinian flags. Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, joined the commemoration.

Land Day, Barghouthi said, should not be restricted to March 30, as “each day for our people is a land day during our battle with the occupation who steals our land and our future. The only way to respond to the plots against our land is by escalating popular resistance across homeland.”

Violent clashes erupted in al-Khader south of Bethlehem, where youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and live ammunition.

Red Crescent medics said dozens from the town were injured and two people were hospitalized.

An Israeli military vehicle overturned in an alley of al-Khader while chasing protesters and a soldier was injured, witnesses said.

In the Gaza Strip Palestinians commemorated Land Day near Erez crossing in the northern area and in Rafah in the south.

A demonstrator was shot and injured by Israeli fire in Rafah, Israeli media reported citing Palestinian sources.

Speaking to a Ma'an reporter, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinians should count on resistance and stick to it until "all Palestine is liberated."

For his part, senior Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib said "armed struggle is the means to liberate the Palestinian land."

Facts on the ground, he added, which the Israeli occupation is trying to impose, are unacceptable and the Palestinian people won't yield to that.

Walid al-Awad, a member of the politburo of the Palestinian People's Party, said the Palestinian people wouldn't accept land confiscation and Judaisation of Palestinian sites.

Meanwhile, member of the politburo of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Jamil Muzhir urged the international community to implement internationally approved resolutions.
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