Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) forces have cracked down on protesters at a Beit Lahm (Bethlehem) rally by firing tear gas and stun grenades.
More than 200 people joined the rally on Monday to protest against the unprecedented detention of a high-ranking Fatah official, Abbas Zaki, by Israeli forces during Palm Sunday rallies on March 28; the first arrest of a high-ranking PA official by Israeli forces in recent times.
They were also protesting over the continued detention of other Palm Sunday detainees and also to mark Land Day.
The march began at the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque and continued to the Gilo checkpoint that separates Beit Lahm and Jerusalem (al-Quds)..
Demonstrators included Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muheisin, independent Palestinian politician and former minister of information Mustafa Barghouti, Beit Lahm Governor Abdul Fattah Hamayil, and heads of the popular committees in Beit Lahm, Beit Sahour, Beit Jala and Hebron (al-Khalil).
Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades at the protesters who retaliated by throwing empty bottles and stones.
Muheisin asserted the Palestinian right to non-violent resistance and condemned Israeli policy against Muslim and Christian sites and restrictions placed on Palestinian worshipers of both denominations on access to sites in Jerusalem al-Quds to perform religious rites.
“The day Israel destroys al-Aqsa, Israel will be destroyed,” he said.