Gaza/Ramallah, March 30 (IANS) Palestinian demonstrators marking the 36-year-anniversary of Land Day on Friday in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip clashed with the Israeli security forces, leaving dozens wounded, reported Xinhua, citing medics.
Officials from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society told Xinhua that 85 Palestinians were injured by rubber-coasted metal bullets while hundreds others inhaled tear gas in a worst wave of violence the West Bank witnessed between the Palestinians and the Israeli army.
The officials said that the clashes took place at Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, adding that Palestinian parliamentarian Mustafa Barghouti, who is also the secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, was hit in his head by an Israeli tear gas canister. Barghouti is now in stable condition.
Witnesses said the Israeli army forces stationed at the checkpoint fired intensive tear gas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition at thousands of Palestinian demonstrators, who threw stones at the soldiers and burned tires near the checkpoint.
In east Jerusalem, medical sources said that six Palestinians were injured; one of them a photojournalist, during clashes between Palestinian prayers and Israeli police forces in the old city.
Dozens of Israeli policemen, which prevented Palestinians under the age of 40 to enter al-Aqsa Muslims' Mosque in the city, were deployed all over the city of Jerusalem and erected checkpoints at the entrances to the mosque.
The Israeli police had also arrested Hatem Abdel Qadir, a senior leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party.
Palestinian eyewitnesses said that Israeli army forces dispersed a demonstration near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, wounding at least three Palestinians. Similar demonstrations broke out in various West Bank cities, towns and villages, where dozens were injured by tear gas and rubber bullets.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers stationed at the borders between the coastal enclave ruled by the Islamic Hamas movement and Israel, opened fire at hundreds of teenagers and young men who tried to approach the borders area. Medics said that 14 Palestinians were injured, two in serious conditions.
Adham Abu Selmeya, Gaza emergency spokesman, told Xinhua that Israeli soldiers shot and wounded 14 Palestinians, adding that the Hamas ministry of health had opened a field hospital in northern and eastern Gaza Strip to immediately treat the casualties.
Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua that the mass Palestinian demonstrations to mark the 36-year- anniversary of Land Day in the Palestinian territories and in various Arab countries 'is a clear message to Israel that no peace or settlement without ending the occupation.'
Ahmed Abu Halabeya, a Hamas lawmaker who joined Friday's rallies and demonstrations, said that the million-people marches and rallies all over the world 'is a powerful message to the Zionist enemy that aggression on Jerusalem must end.'
Saleh Nasser, a senior leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), told demonstrators that the marches and demonstrations on Friday 'are the best answer to the Israeli violations of the Palestinians rights in Jerusalem and it represents a popular scream that renew the support to the Palestinians.'
Nasser called on rival Fatah and Hamas movements to make use of the Palestinian unity in this particular day to end their division and implement the reconciliation agreements they signed in Egypt and Qatar, adding that 'this division is made on the expense of our resistance against the occupation.'
Meanwhile, Mohamed al-Sayed Idris, an Egyptian Islamist lawmaker who is now visiting in Gaza and joined the rallies in northern Gaza Strip, said that 'what had been taken by force must be gained back by force.'
He called on Arab leaders to seriously move 'to liberate Palestine and protect Jerusalem'.
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