Internationals, Palestinians hold protest at Israeli checkpoint

Internationals, Palestinians hold protest at Israeli checkpoint

Pro-Palestinian international activists Saturday held their first protest of the week at an Israeli military checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, after making it through Tel Aviv airport the day before, dpa reported.

Israeli airport authorities on Friday prevented dozens of international activists planning to join Palestinians in anti-Israeli occupation protests from entering the country.

Most were held in detention awaiting deportation, according to organizers of the Welcome to Palestine "flytilla" campaign.

But they said between 50 and 100 activists had made it through in spite of strict airport checks.

The international activists joined dozens of Palestinians gathered at Qalandia checkpoint, half way between Jerusalem and Ramallah, to demand removal of the checkpoint and to allow free movement for Palestinians.

Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint fired tear gas at the protesters, who shouted slogans demanding that Israel end its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Some were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets used by the Israeli army to disperse protesters.

Several participants suffered from gas inhalation and were treated at the scene, but none required hospitalization, according to medical sources.

The protest at Qalandia checkpoint was the first in a series of activities the activists are planning to hold over the coming days at various West Bank locations.

The protests mark the seventh anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advising Israel to dismantle a separation barrier it is building inside the West Bank along the 1948 armistice line.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said in a statement Saturday that the ICJ ruling had "marked a new juncture in the Palestinian people's march toward justice and freedom."

Israel meanwhile stopped a busload of international activists travelling on a West Bank road near Ramallah and directed the bus to an army camp, according to Palestinian activists on the bus.

They said Israeli army patrols stopped the bus when it was on its way back from an anti-barrier activity in the village of Nabi Saleh, west of Ramallah. Some 30 international activists were on the bus.

The Israeli measure seemed to be an attempt by the government to round up all international activists who were in the West Bank for possible deportation. It was not immediately known what measures the army took against the activists on the bus.

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