There was a string of clashes on Friday between Israeli security forces and Palestinian activists who were observing Land Day — an annual event to commemorate the killing of six people over a land dispute with Israelis in 1976.
Israeli soldiers used teargas and stun grenades to disperse a stone-throwing crowd of around 250 at a border checkpoint north of Jerusalem. The scene was repeated at another border checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where security forces confronted around 300 protesters hurling rocks and the occasional Molotov cocktail.
Violence also flared in parts of East Jerusalem, where clashes with Israeli forces left several Palestinian activists wounded, according to the Red Crescent. Around 14 were arrested at Nablus Gate and Lion's Gate in Jerusalem. An estimated 5,000 protesters assembled for the main rally at the village of Deir Hanna.
The observance of Land Day resonated in neighbouring Lebanon and Syria, where large numbers of Palestinians reside in crowded refugee camps. In Lebanon, Hizbollah and the Fatah movement marshalled more than 60 buses to transfer Palestinian refugees from 12 camps across the country to a location in south Lebanon, where a ceremony was held.
Palestinians in Syrian refugee camps had also planned to demonstrate. However, it was unlikely that marches would be organised on the Syrian side of Golan Heights, where 15 people were killed last year during clashes with Israeli troops.
Palestinian activists were also planning to mark Land Day by organising a “global march” to Israel's borders.
Friday's protests come at a time when Israel's ruling Likud coalition could benefit from a leadership change in the rival Kadima party.
The former Defence Minister, Shaul Mofaz, now heads the party, replacing Tzipi Livni, a former Foreign Minister, following an internal election.
Analysts say that Mr. Mofaz may be more inclined to join the ruling right-leaning Likud party, thereby bolstering support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Mofaz has advocated the formation of a provisional Palestinian state, occupying 60 to 65 per cent of the West Bank, in addition to Gaza, without the removal of any Israeli settlements at the outset.