Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man in northern Gaza on Friday after a day of protest which saw thousands rallying to mark Land Day, a medical spokesman told AFP.
Mahmoud Zakut, 20, was killed in Beit Hanun in an area near the border fence with Israel, emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya said.
Thousands of Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli troops at Qalandia checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday as hundreds more gathered by Jerusalem’s Old City to mark Land Day.
Dubbed as “Global March to Jerusalem,” rallies were also held by refugee communities in neighboring Jordan and Lebanon to mark the annual event that commemorates the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli forces during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in northern Israel.
Tensions were high at the Qalandia checkpoint, just north of Jerusalem, as Palestinian youths hurled rocks and set tires alight, with Israeli troops firing a barrage of tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up the protest.
Palestinian medics said they had treated 39 people, most of them for tear gas inhalation, while seven were injured by rubber bullets.
“There is a riot taking place at Qalandia. Rioters are throwing stones at the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and burning tires, and the IDF is responding with riot dispersal means,” a military spokesman told AFP.
In annexed Arab east Jerusalem, around 400 demonstrators waving huge Palestinian flags gathered outside the Old City near Damascus Gate, sparking scuffles with hundreds of police who were seen beating some of the crowd, an AFP correspondent said.
At one point, a policeman in full riot gear snatched a Palestinian flag, threw it on the ground and stamped on it.
Another hundred or so people gathered by Lion’s Gate where police were seen beating at least two people, another AFP correspondent said.
Police said they arrested 18 people in the demonstrations in and around the Old City.
In the northern West Bank, around 1,000 people rallied at Kafr Qaddum near Nablus, Palestinian witnesses and security sources said.
And another 500 people marched from Iraq Burin towards the settlement of Bracha, sparking clashes with troops who fired tear gas.
In Gaza, eight people were injured by gunfire, a spokesman for the Hamas emergency services told AFP.
Six were wounded as thousands marched from Jabaliya to Beit Lahiya, while the other two were hurt near the south Gaza town of Khan Yunis, medics said.
The army confirmed firing toward a man who “lit a tire and rolled it at the soldiers” near the Erez crossing, hitting him in the legs.
And military sources confirmed shooting a man in the leg near Khan Yunis after he set something alight very close to the border fence.
Palestinian organizers called for peaceful rallies on Friday against “the policies and practices of the racist Zionist state” and said solidarity protests were planned in some 80 nations, according to Reuters.
“When crowds from 80 countries move towards Jerusalem, they send a strong message to the Israeli occupation that no one can accept what they are doing in Jerusalem,” said Ismail Haniyeh, the Gaza leader of the Islamic group Hamas.
Israel is wary of growing unrest in the Palestinian Territories, with peace talks stalled for months and Palestinian leaders refusing to return to the negotiating table until Israel halts all Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.
Leading Palestinian activist Marwan Barghouti, serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli jail for allegedly orchestrating suicide attacks, called on Monday for a new wave of civil resistance in the decades-long quest for statehood.
In south Lebanon, hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered near the historic Beaufort Castle where roadside banners proclaimed: “Jerusalem, here we come!”
Large numbers of Lebanese troops were deployed in the area and barbed wire was erected to ensure no one approached the flashpoint frontier, an AFP correspondent said.
In Jordan, more than 15,000 people, including opposition Islamists and Palestinians, joined a sit-in in Kafrein, some 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Allenby crossing and barely a kilometer and a half (a mile) from the border, security officials said, saying the rally was “a peaceful sit-in.”
In Israel, the main Land Day march was to take place in the Arab-Israeli town of Deir Hanna in Galilee, with another march scheduled in the southern Negev desert.
In anticipation of mass protests, the Israeli army imposed a 24-hour closure on the occupied territories late on Thursday, and police imposed an age limit on worshippers attending the main weekly Muslim prayers at the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Israel has been hoping to avoid a repeat of the bloody confrontations that took place last May when thousands gathered along the Lebanon border and on the Syrian Golan Heights on Nakba Day to protest on the anniversary of Israel's creation in 1948.
Israeli troops opened fire on protesters trying to cross the lines, killing 11 and wounding hundreds, according to U.N. figures.
A month later, between 10 and 23 people were killed and hundreds injured in a similar protest on the Golan Heights on Naksa Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day-War when Israel seized the territories.