IDF, police brace for Global March to Jerusalem (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ, HERB KEINON 03/30/12)
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The IDF and Israel Police went on high alert Thursday and canceled
weekend leave for thousands of soldiers and policemen ahead of the
Global March to Jerusalem planned to begin Friday along Israel’s
Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to prepare for a wide
range of violent scenarios that could break out along the borders,
and military sources said that troops were under orders to use force
to prevent infiltrations.
“No one will be marching toward Jerusalem,” one official said.
Preparations are taking place along all of Israel’s fronts. The IDF
announced Thursday night that Barak ordered West Bank crossings
closed for a 24 hour period.
Protests are expected to break out in several Palestinian cities in
the West Bank and at the Kalandiya crossing to Ramallah, north of
Jerusalem. Officers from the Civil Administration were in touch this
week with their Palestinian counterparts in an effort to contain the
protests and prevent them from escalating.
Jerusalem police have raised the alert level in the capital, while
Magen David Adom spokesman Zachi Heller said that ambulances and
paramedics were also raising their alert level through the weekend,
starting early Friday morning.
The Northern and Southern Commands have deployed extra forces along
the borders with Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip together with riot
gear to prevent border infiltrations.
In June, around 100 Syrians crossed into Israel on Nakba Day.
Friday marks the 36th anniversary of Land Day, when Israeli Arabs in
the Galilee and Negev protest government policies they say infringe
on their land rights.
Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and along Israel’s other
borders traditionally rally in solidarity, but this year organizers
are hoping to march to Jerusalem.
The general assessment in the IDF is that the protests will mostly be
peaceful but there is concern that isolated acts of violence could
quickly escalate and spread to the other protests.
Government officials said Israel was ready “for any eventuality.”
Thousands of police officers will fan out across Jerusalem, with an
emphasis on the alleyways of the Old City and crossings into the West
Bank including the Rachel checkpoint to Bethlehem, said Jerusalem
Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.
“It is not clear whether there will be problems,” one diplomatic
official said. “The organizers are trying to play this up, and we do
not want to play into their hands by giving them more publicity.”
The official said that Israel spoke directly with some of its
neighbors – obviously Egypt and Jordan – and relayed the message
through third parties to others that Israel expected that its borders
would remain quiet.
The official said the march was being organized by fundamentalist
Islamic extremists, some of whom were interested in violence, and
that Israel was calling on the relevant parties in the Palestinian
Authority and in neighboring states to “act in a responsible way.”
“We are not in a panic and this is not a crisis,” the official
said. “We just have to be ready.”
Meanwhile, a website by pro- Palestinian activists calling for mass
marches to Jerusalem went offline on Thursday.
There was no immediate claim from Israeli hackers of being behind the
Melanie Lidman and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/30/12)
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