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Clashes in Hebron as Israel boosts security for ‘Land Day’

Published: Updated:

Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed in the West Bank city Hebron on Friday as Israel deployed significant security reinforcements ahead of a day of demonstrations.

Palestinian security forces in Hebron said that hundreds of people took part in two demonstrations, one inside the city and one south of it, and threw stones at Israeli security forces who responded with tear gas and dyed water.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told AFP that “150 Palestinians threw stones at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means.”

Both sides said there were no arrests or injuries.

Weekly demonstrations against the separation barrier near Bilin and Nilin farther north in the West Bank took place with no special incidents reported, an AFP correspondent said.

In Jerusalem, some 5,000 Palestinians participated in Friday prayers, which again passed without incident, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

Earlier, thousands of police reinforcements were deployed in Jerusalem “following information that groups of Palestinians were ready to engage in violent demonstrations” during Land Day commemorations on Saturday, spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

The annual demonstration marks the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass protests in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

Samri said that security had also been strengthened at the main checkpoints between annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

An officer told army radio that the military also deployed reinforcements to the West Bank.

“Very often the mere presence of these forces acts as a deterrent and, in case of violent demonstrations, the security forces who have taken up positions in the field have an advantage over troublemakers,” the officer said.

Demonstrations were expected on Saturday in the Arab-Israeli town Sakhnin and throughout the West Bank and Gaza.