Last May, thousands of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank, Gaza, and along the borders with Lebanon and Syria – with some of them attempting to cross into Israel – to commemorate Nakba Day, which marks Israel’s creation in 1948. Several were killed as they tried to cross the border. Israel’s precautions today are an attempt to avert the bloody clashes that left 12 dead and hundreds injured, Agence France-Presse reports.
By midday, Israeli forces had released tear gas into the crowds at Qalandia checkpoint, according to a Guardian correspondent on site who has been providing regular updates to a liveblog. She writes:
Palestinian boys have started arriving at the blockades. Jabai, 19, has come from Nablus to join the protest. "Today is different than any other Friday demonstration," he says. "Many more people are coming.”
And what of organisers' hopes that the demonstrations will be peaceful? "No, we want to throw stones and break things", says Jabai, highlighting the difference between Palestinian activists and the frustrated youth who come to demonstrate anger. The first rocks are already being thrown at the Israeli watchtower.
A procession of hundreds of Palestinians bearing orange flags, drumming and whistling, is pouring down the Jerusalem road from Ramallah towards Qalandiya. They have been met by armoured Israeli vehicles blasting high-pitch sirens.