Over 60 Palestinians injured in scattered protests across West Bank

Roughly 900 West Bank Palestinians demonstrate on Land Day and in solidarity with mass ‘March of Return’ at Gaza border; non-violent marches held in northern Israel

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Palestinian men wave flags in front of Israeli troops during a demonstration commemorating Land Day in the West Bank village of Qusra on March 30, 2018. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
Palestinian men wave flags in front of Israeli troops during a demonstration commemorating Land Day in the West Bank village of Qusra on March 30, 2018. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Over 60 Palestinians were injured in clashes with IDF troops that took place across the West Bank Friday, as Palestinians commemorated deadly fighting over 40 years ago and gathered in solidarity with the “March of Return” demonstrations being held en masse along the Gaza border.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 27 Palestinians were injured in Land Day demonstrations held in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and that 63 were injured in total.

An IDF spokesman referred to the scattered West Bank protests, which attracted some 900 demonstrators, as small scale.

Palestinian media reported Israeli troops firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators near Nablus and Ramallah.

Israeli troops during clashes with Palestinians at a demonstration commemorating Land Day in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 30, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

According to the B’Tselem rights group, an Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian in his 20s with an all-terrain vehicle outside the village of Sarura in the South Hebron Hills.

The Palestinian was evacuated to a nearby hospital with what appeared to be a broken leg, B’Tselem said. It was not clear if it was a deliberate attack. A spokesman for the IDF said the army was looking into the incident.

A Palestinian is treated by medics after allegedly being run over by an Israeli settler with his tractor outside the village of Sarura in the South Hebron Hills. (Nasser Nawaj’ah/B’Tselem)

Dozens of Palestinian burned tired and hurled stones and firebombs at troops near the entrance of Ramallah, according to Hebrew media reports. Protests were also reported around Hebron, Qusra and other areas of the West Bank.

The protests were a small fraction of much larger demonstrations on the Gaza border, where over 30,000 Palestinians massed near the security fence in what was a termed the “March of Return,” encouraged by the Hamas terror group that rules the Strip.

Sixteen Gazans were killed, and hundreds more injured by IDF live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry. The army said that Palestinians in the coastal enclave threw rocks, firebombs at troops and burned tires.

The IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis said the IDF faced “a violent, terrorist demonstration at six points” along the fence. He said the IDF used “pinpoint fire” wherever there were attempts to breach or damage the security fence. “All the fatalities were aged 18-30, several of the fatalities were known to us, and at least two of them were members of Hamas commando forces,” he said.

The protests coincided with Land Day, when Palestinians commemorate the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee on March 30, 1976, and ensuing demonstrations in which six Arab Israelis were killed.

Peaceful marches to commemorate Land Day were held in several Arab Galilee towns, including a mass march led by Joint (Arab) List lawmakers in the town of Sakhnin.

Joint List lawmakers lead Palestinians in a march in the Israeli town of northern Israeli town of Sakhnin in commemoration of Land Day on March 30, 2018. (Joint List)

Organizers had said the Gaza protests would be peaceful but Israeli officials were wary of a fresh flare-up along the enclave’s border. Hamas, a key organizer of the campaign, is an Islamist terror group that seeks the destruction of Israel.

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