Israel's deputy foreign minister said an annual Palestinian protest over the weekend is "political terrorism," reported the Associated Press. Danny Ayalon spoke Saturday in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, saying Land Day protests are "a continuation of the diplomatic terrorism (Palestinian Authority President) Abu Mazen is using against Israel in international forums."
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Land Day drew demonstrators in groups of hundreds in locations across Israel as well as in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. There were also solidarity marches in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan, according to The New York Times. The annual protest commemorates the March 1976 events when Israel confiscated land from Galilee Arab villages, leading to protests in which six Arabs were killed. This year, the focus encompassed the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state. There were also calls for protests and marches around the world.
Clashes erupted on Friday in Jerusalem between Israel Defense Force soldiers and around 250 Palestinian protesters. At the Qalandiyah checkpoint, protesters threw rocks at soldiers, who fought back with stun grenades and tear gas, reported Haaretz. About 300 protesters at the border crossing near Rachel's Tomb, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces. The area, which is a common crossing for tourists and pilgrims, was closed to the public.