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Palestinians Commemorate Land Day as Israel Forces Fire at Protesters

One Palestinian reported dead in Gaza; hundreds have been injured across Palestine and Israel

Common Dreams staff

Protesters carry away one of the injured during protests at Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank [Reuters]

Thousands of protesters across Palestine, Israel and beyond are taking action to commemorate Land Day, an annual event which protests Israel's decision to take Palestinian land in 1976.  Dozens of protests have taken place in Israel and the Occupied Territories today, involving thousands of Palestinian activists.  To kick off the annual protests, activists held a "Global March to Jerusalem."

Actions are also being held across the rest of the world. Zaher Berawi, an organizer of the protests, said the participants of the march plan to “besiege Israel and its embassies over the world.” Protests and marchs are planned in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and across Europe.

Israeli forces have fired on activists throughout the day with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, according to numerous reports. CNN International reports that one Palestinian -- an unidentified male -- has been killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza. Violence has been especially notable at the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates the West Bank and Jeresulam.

Al Jazeera English has a live blog of the day's event, here.

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Middle East Monitor: Jerusalem Globalizes Palestine Land Day

Palestinians have observed Land Day on 30 March every year since 1976. It was then that Palestinians in Israel organised a general strike to protest against the seizure of their land by the state. The Israeli government responded with characteristic colonial brutality, unleashing military force against peaceful demonstrators; six Palestinian youths were killed by the Israelis that day, and scores more were wounded. This year, because of Israel's escalated assault on occupied Jerusalem and its inhabitants, Land Day 2012 is a global event of enormous significance.

The organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem could not have chosen a better date on which to highlight the troubles of the Holy City. Two million people are expected to take to the streets in 30 countries to send a message to the Israeli establishment; that its illegal occupation of Jerusalem has gone on too long and its twin policies of ethnic cleansing and Judaisation must end.

Since its inception, Land Day has united Palestinians of all faiths and political persuasions across historic Palestine and in every corner of the world. When the final chapter of Palestinian history is written, 30 March will, inevitably, occupy a distinguished position. Without minimising the importance of other landmark events, this day symbolises more than any other the true nature of the conflict in Palestine, which resolves around the fact that Palestine was never "a land without a people", as Israel's founding myths insist, and its real owners have never relinquished their sovereign rights to the ownership of their land.

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Ma'an News Agency: Medics: Palestinian killed in Beit Hanoun clash

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 Zaqout, 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. Israeli officials said soldiers fired warning shots to deter the protesters.

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.

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Al Jazeera English: Clashes as Palestinians mark 'Land Day'

Israeli security forces have fired rubber coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian demonstrators in the occupied West Bank as annual Land Day rallies turned violent.

At least 121 people have been injured in clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Friday, mostly from tear gas inhalation, medical sources told Al Jazeera.

Palestinian activists have called for a "Global March to Jerusalem" to mark the day when Israeli Arabs protest against government policies that they say has stripped them of land.

Five medical workers were also reported to have been shot with rubber coated bullets and one car was set ablaze.

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry reported that Israeli security forces tried to push hundreds of protesters back toward the nearby West Bank town of Ramallah, using water cannon and tear gas.

Rocks were thrown, tyres set alight and Red Crescent ambulances could be seen at the scene.

"This is a place where we frequently see clashes, and what we're seeing here is the Israeli army needing to put a barrier up and not let people through," our correspondent said.

"These clashes seem to be a bit more fierce today, and have started earlier in the day than usual."

Access limited

Medics in the Gaza Strip said the Israelis also used live fire to prevent protesters from nearing the frontier wall, seriously wounding one man.

Israeli forces were put on high alert at frontier crossings with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of anyone nearing the border fences, unlike last year when several demonstrators were killed in separate protests.

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Russia Today: 'Land Day' clashes: Youngster killed, over 200 injured – reports


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