The riots began after Friday afternoon Muslim prayers – often a starting point for violence – when dozens of masked Arab youths began rioting at the checkpoint.
Soldiers responded with teargas and deployed the “Skunk” – a vehicle loaded with canons spraying a noxious-smelling liquid. A machine that transmits high frequency sound waves was also employed.
Israel Radio reported several protesters were lightly injured in the clashes and taken to the hosptial. Hamas parliament member Ahmed Atoun was lightly injured when he was struck in the head by a stone hurled by the rioters.
A video uploaded to the IDF Spokesperson’s YouTube channel showed rioters in Bethlehem hurling stones and firebombs at an IDF watchtower.
Hundreds of Arabs gathered near the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem in an attempt to stage an illegal march, but were stopped by police. Numerous arrests were reported.
Some 200 people attended a parade marking Land Day in Kafr Kanna near Nazareth, where no violence was reported.
Meanwhile, Jordanian news sites reported some 20,000 people are gathering in order to take part in the massive march towards the Israeli border. According to reports, 4 rabbis from the extreme anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect were marching with them.
The stridently pro-Hizbullah Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported 120 Hamas-provided buses will be transporting protesters to the Israeli border to participate in the “Global March on Jerusalem.”
Friday’s violence was widely expected by security officials who deployed on Thursday thousands of additional troops and police officers in anticipation of trouble.
Palestinian Authority enclaves in Judea and Samaria were also cordoned off.
IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Police commissioner Yochanan Danino on Friday personally toured potential hotspots to make first hand security assessments.
At least 15 people were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers when they tried to cross the Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel in May protests over Israel’s creation in 1948.
In June, Israeli troops killed 23 infiltrators who crossed into the no-man’s land between Israel and Syria as a part of violent protests against Israel’s presence in the Golan Heights since 1967.