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Israel bracing for violence ahead of mass pro-Palestinian march (ISRAEL HAYOM) Lilach Shoval, Daniel Siryoti and Israel Hayom Staff 03/25/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=3659 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Defense establishment is preparing for potential disturbances and border breaches on Friday as mass rally planned • Israel sends message to Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, warning that any attempted breach into sovereign Israeli territory will be met with a harsh response.

The defense establishment is making preparations for the Global March to Jerusalem, a mass demonstration scheduled for this Friday in which pro-Palestinian activists from the region are planning to march on Israel’s borders in a show of support for the Palestinians.

This Friday, March 30, is the day that Israeli Arabs mark Land Day, the day in 1976 that Palestinians called a general strike to protest Israel’s announcement it would expropriate land for settlements and security, and that has become a symbol of solidarity for the Palestinians.

Officials are preparing for potential disturbances along the borders with Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. One defense official told Israel Hayom that the biggest threats appear to be from the Israel-Lebanon border, as members of terrorist group Hezbollah are expected to participate in the march, and from Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria.

Officials in the defense establishment are not ruling out potential disturbances along the Egyptian border, which could harm the already sensitive diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt. Considering the unrest in Syria and Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to maintain control there, in addition to rallies last year along the Syrian border on Nakba day and Naksa day [when Palestinians mark the creation of the state of Israel and the capture of east Jerusalem, respectively], officials are also keeping close watch on the Syrian border. Since last year’s protests, in which Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators who breached the border with Syria, the Israel Defense Forces have improved their preparedness along the Syrian border, erecting fences there as well.

According to Arab media outlets, more than 50,000 protesters are expected to march in the Global March to Jerusalem.

Sources in the defense establishment claim that Iran has publicly supported the event, and has taken part in preparations for the march toward Israel’s borders. Sources say Iran’s involvement is proof of the radical Islamic nature of the event. Groups such as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are also expected to take part in the event.

March organizers have said the event would be “non-violent,” but defense establishment officials fear those are false claims.

London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Israel sent a message to the Arab nations and to the Palestinians, warning of a severe response to anyone who tries to cross the border. According to the report, the message was relayed to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian Authority, and emphasized that the events of last year’s Nakba and Naksa day marches, in which protesters broke through Israel’s border fence, would not be tolerated again.

“Israel, like any sovereign nation, will defend its borders,” an Israeli official said.

Despite the concern in Israel, Arab media outlets speculated that, in light of the current strife in Syria and the political situation in Egypt, there may be small rallies in some areas, but not large marches. A Lebanese report said that the Lebanese Army would allow protesters to march until the Beaufort castle, north of the Litani river, so as to avoid confrontation with Israeli troops.

During last year’s Nakba day rallies, dozens of Syrian protesters breached the border fence and infiltrated into Israel, creating mass disturbances in the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams. One of the infiltrators even made his way to Jaffa after getting a ride to Tel Aviv from activists. He later turned himself in to police.

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