Israel braces for Arab protests on Friday (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Ynet reporters, AP Published: 03.30.12, 00:45)
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IDF imposes full closure on West Bank, deploys thousands of soldiers,
police along borders with Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan ahead of ´Global
March to Jerusalem´; protesters in Amman burn Israeli, American flags
Israel on Thursday stepped up preparations a day before a series of
planned Arab protests, deploying thousands of troops and police
across the country and along its borders in anticipation of possible
On Friday, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
are marking Land Day, an annual protest against what they say are
discriminatory Israeli land policies. Supporters in neighboring Arab
countries planned marches near the Israeli borders in a solidarity
event they call a "Global March to Jerusalem."
While organizers said the events would be nonviolent, Israel´s army
and police were girding for trouble after similar protests last year
turned deadly. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has instructed the army to
impose a full closure on the West Bank, which will be lifted in 24
hours barring any unforeseen developments.
At least 15 people were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers when
they tried to cross the Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel in a
May protest marking Palestinian sorrow over Israel´s creation in
A month later, Israeli troops killed 23 demonstrators who crossed
into the no-man´s land between Israel and Syria in a demonstration
against Israeli control of the Golan Heights, which it captured from
Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who oversees
the national police force, said officers would be spread out in
potentially explosive areas Friday but would not enter Arab villages
"The guidelines are to allow everyone to mark Land Day quietly ... We
will keep a low profile," he told Israel Radio.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said thousands of officers were on
the move throughout the country Thursday in preparation for Land Day.
He said the biggest deployments were near Arab towns in northern
Israel and in Jerusalem.
He said police were in touch with leaders of Arab communities in
Israel in an attempt to keep protests peaceful.
"We´re hoping there won´t be any major incidents," he said. "If there
are ... obviously the police will respond and deal with them."
In Jerusalem, the entrance to the Temple Mount compound will be
limited. Thousands of police officers will be deployed in and around
Mahmoud Aloul, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank involved in
preparations, said demonstrations were to be held in Jerusalem, the
Qalandiya checkpoint - a frequent flashpoint of violence on the
outskirts of Jerusalem - and in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Other events were planned in Arab towns in northern Israel.
The Israeli military was also preparing for possible trouble along
the borders with Lebanon and Syria in the north, Jordan to the east,
and Egypt and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to the south.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it was "prepared for any
eventuality and will do whatever is necessary to protect Israeli
borders and residents." It gave no further details.
As part of the preparations in north Israel, roadblocks will be set
up at the entrances to major cities.
Activists in Gaza planned to hold a demonstration about a kilometer
(half a mile) from the Israeli border, but said they did not plan to
move closer, minimizing the chance of clashes.
The IDF has positioned snipers along the Gaza border fence for fear
demonstrators may try to approach it.
Authorities in Lebanon and Jordan also said they would keep
demonstrators far from the Israeli border. Several thousand
protesters were expected in each place. It was unclear whether
protesters would gather in Syria, which is in the midst of a vicious
civil war that has left thousands dead over the past year.
Palestinian organizer Mustafa Barghouti said activists from 82
countries were expected to participate in Land Day activities.
Barghouti said the marches were aimed at "ending the apartheid regime
and the ethnic cleansing."
It was reported this week that at least to of the Arab protest
organizers were aboard the Mavi Marmara ship when it was raided by
IDF commandoes while trying to violate the Israeli naval blockade of
Meanwhile, dozens of Jordanians protested near the Israeli embassy in
Amman on Thursday against Israeli presence in the Hashemite Kingdom.
During the rally demonstrators burned Israeli and American flags and
said they would continue to protest until the Israeli embassy "is
removed from Jordanian land and Palestine is liberated. They
chanted, "Arab, fight for your rights."
The rally was organized by a Jordanian group that has been protesting
against the presence of the Israeli embassy in Jordan for a few
months. The group has also been protesting against the Israel-Jordan
peace treaty. Roi Kais contributed to the report (Copyright 2012 ©
Yedioth Internet 03/30/12)
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