Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Palestinian protests against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion this week coincide with Land Day, the annual event to protest Israel’s discriminatory land policies. Israel seals the Erez crossing for 2 days (3/30–31), citing security concerns. Palestinians (accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold their weekly nonviolent demonstrations in Bil’in, Kafr Qaddum, Nabi Salih, and Ni’lin (with protests in Bil’in and Ni’lin also calling for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas). IDF soldiers fire live ammunition (Nabi Salih only), rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at these protesters, injuring 11 Palestinians (including a child) and 1 international (4 Palestinians are wounded by live fire in Nabi Salih; the rest are hit by tear-gas canisters in Kafr Qaddum). Palestinians hold at least 5 other Land Day rallies in the West Bank (outside Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, outside Ofer Prison and at 2 points along the separation wall nr. Ramallah, and at the Qalandia crossing n. of Jerusalem). IDF soldiers fire live ammunition (Ofer and Qalandia only), rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at these protesters, injuring 19 (including 2 children; at least 7 are hit by live fire and 1 is seriously injured by a tear-gas canister to the head). In Gaza, Hamas authorities allow 1,000s of Palestinians to conduct a nonviolent demonstration nearly a mile from the Erez crossing, deploying police to prevent the protesters from marching to the border. Nonetheless, IDF troops on the Gaza border fire on the demonstration, killing 1 Palestinian and wounding 37 (1 seriously; including 16 children). A major protest planned for East Jerusalem does not materialize. Inside Israel, some 2,000 Israeli Palestinians demonstrate in the Galilee, with no violence reported. (NYT, WP 3/31; OCHA, PCHR 4/5)

Nonviolent Land Day protests are also held in Jordan and Lebanon. In Lebanon, 100s of Palestinians and Lebanese gather at Beaufort castle, 9 miles fr. the Israeli border, where Lebanese military forces deploy to prevent them fr. marching to the border. In Jordan, some 20,000 Palestinians march toward the West Bank border but stop 4 miles. No violence is reported in either case. (NYT, WP 3/31)

The IDF patrols in 3 villages nr. Ramallah and 1 nr. Jericho in the morning; patrols in 2 villages nr. Jenin (firing stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinian youths who confront them, causing no injuries) and 1 nr. Qalqilya in the afternoon; conducts late-night patrols in Jericho and nearby `Ayn al-Sultan r.c., 1 village nr. Hebron, and 1 nr. Ramallah. (PCHR 4/5)