Palestinians commemorate Land Day

Palestinians on Saturday commemorate Land Day, an annual series of demonstrations marking 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.

Demonstrations were expected on Saturday in the Arab-Israeli town Sakhnin and throughout the West Bank and Gaza as Israeli security forces geared up to confront the protests.

Thousands of police reinforcements deployed Friday in Jerusalem "following information that groups of Palestinians were ready to engage in violent demonstrations" during Land Day commemorations on Saturday, Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri said. 

Samri added 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.

Meanwhile, Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed in the West Bank city Hebron on Friday amid the Israeli security deployments.

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 spokesperson 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.

Also, 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.

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