One PA Arab Dead in Land Day Riots

March 30, 2012  

The Land Day protests, some of which turned violent, ended late Friday afternoon with one Palestinian Authority Arab dead in Gaza.

According to a report in the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, the Arab was killed by Israeli fire. The report cited a medical official in Gaza who added that over 30 other people were wounded in clashes at two sites in Gaza.

The official, Adham Abu Salmiya, identified the victim as 20-year-old Mahmoud Zaqout. He added that Zaquot was shot and killed near the Erez Crossing.

As well, Abu Salmiya said, 31 people in the Erez area were injured and taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital. In Khan Younis, six people were hospitalized.

Medics claimed the Israeli army used live fire to prevent protesters from approaching barriers separating Gaza and Israel, Ma’an reported.

An Israeli army spokesman said in response that one PA Arab man approached the Erez crossing before soldiers opened fire. The spokesman added that forces acted within the rules of engagement, firing warning shots and then directly targeting him when he refused to stop.

Earlier Friday, Arabs began hurling firebombs and stones at soldiers near the Kalandia checkpoint north of Jerusalem.

The riots began after Friday afternoon Muslim prayers – often a starting point for violence – when dozens of masked Arab youths began rioting at the checkpoint.

Soldiers responded with teargas and deployed the “Skunk” – a vehicle loaded with canons spraying a noxious-smelling liquid.  A machine that transmits high frequency sound waves was also employed.

A video uploaded to the IDF Spokesperson’s YouTube channel showed rioters in Bethlehem hurling stones and firebombs at an IDF watchtower. 

Hundreds of Arabs gathered near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem in an attempt to stage an illegal march, but were stopped by police. Numerous arrests were reported.

Some 200 people attended a parade marking Land Day in Kafr Kanna near Nazareth, where no violence was reported.

IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Police commissioner Yochanan Danino on Friday personally toured potential hotspots to make first hand security assessments.

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