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Palestinians hurl firebombs at IDF soldiers at Land Day protests (ISRAEL HAYOM) Lilach Shoval, Daniel Siryoti, Yori Yalon and Itsik Saban 03/30/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=3756 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Israel on high alert across all borders as "Global March to Jerusalem" kicks off • Firebombs thrown by violent protesters at Qalandia checkpoint • Report: Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers stationed near Lebanon´s Litani River.

Security forces in Judea and Samaria, the Galilee and the Golan Heights were on the highest level of alert on Friday in anticipation of mass marches to Israel’s borders scheduled to take place during the day by pro-Palestinian activists.

As part of the “Global March to Jerusalem” campaign, pro-Palestinian activists from neighboring countries and beyond planned to march toward Israel’s borders in a show of support for the Palestinians.

The marches were scheduled for Friday, March 30, which Israeli Arabs mark as Land Day, the anniversary of a 1976 general Palestinian strike to protest Israel’s announcement that it would expropriate land for settlements. Observance of Land Day has now evolved into a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Intelligence assessments ahead of the marches said that the scope of the protests would be limited, but the IDF was still preparing for extreme scenarios. As such, soldiers stationed at potential hot spots were given updated protocols, commanders surveyed the areas ahead of time, and security forces were reinforced with crowd dispersal equipment.

The defense establishment was most concerned with possible infiltrations from the Lebanese border, though security forces were closely monitoring the Syrian border as well.

IDF Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz on Friday toured border areas in central and northern Israel, including along the Jordan Valley, and conducted security assessments with division commanders in Judea and Samaria and near the Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese borders. Gantz instructed security forces to be alert and act with discretion in the event of any disturbances along the border areas.

During last year’s “Nakba Day” events, hundreds of Arab demonstrators from Syria protesting the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment infiltrated the northern border into Israel and clashed with soldiers, leading to the death of several rioters and sparking an international outcry against Israel.

According to Arab media outlets, tens of thousands of protesters planned on marching towards Israel to “protest the Israeli occupation.” Protest organizers have vowed that they would not allow activists to breach the borders.

Activists in Lebanon on Friday morning began commemorating Land Day by staging a march to the Beaufort Castle, which lies near the Lebanon-Israel border.

Between 5,000 and 7,000 Lebanese, Palestinian and foreign demonstrators were expected to arrive at the castle where speeches were expected to be delivered and Friday prayers were to be held, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported.

A Lebanese security source told newspaper that the Lebanese Army would enforce measures to prevent protesters from entering into the area south of the Litani River, which is within the field of operation of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon. However, other Lebanese media reports said that members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were stationed in the area and would attempt to incite protesters to march toward the border with Israel.

Witnesses told The Daily Star that the military was heavily deployed in the border areas of Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil.

Abdel-Malek Sukkarieh, the media coordinator of the national committee for the Global March to Jerusalem, told The Daily Star that he did not expect any security incidents.

“Not at all, we are fully coordinating with Lebanese authorities. We are away from the border fence and there is no physical contact with the enemy’s army,” he said.

Sources also told The Daily Star that the Palestinian Fatah movement and some other Palestinian factions would only be represented at the march in Lebanon by their cadres, rather than supporters. The groups apparently cited “logistical reasons” for their limited participation.

Arab media reports on Thursday stated that Israel sent an assertive message, using a third party, to Syria and Lebanon ahead of the march, warning them not to allow protesters to approach the border.

In Jordan, the Public Security Department said authorities will deploy large-scale forces in the Jordan Valley “in a bid to ensure the safety of participants and secure the border region,” the Jordan Times reported Friday.

“We are working with organizers and other security services to ensure the march stays peaceful and does not impact the border region,” department spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammed Khatib told The Jordan Times.

IDF troops were also bracing for events within Israel’s borders, in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. On Thursday night, soldiers discovered improvised explosive devices on the border fence near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. The devices were neutralized without incident with the help of helicopter cover.

Security forces were urged to exercise restraint during the marches and to allow the day’s events to pass with minimal casualties.

On Friday morning, clashes between protesters and security forces erupted at the Qalandia checkpoint. Dozens of Palestinians burned tires and hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at security forces, who responded by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.

In Jerusalem, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Damascus Gate in the Old City, waving Palestinian flags. At the protest in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, the IDF detained four people, according to the Ma’an news agency, which was quoting an IDF spokesperson.

According to Ma’an, Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem formed a human chain to prevent demonstrators there from reaching the checkpoint.

Israel Police also raised its alert level and thousands of officers were stationed in the northern and Jerusalem districts. To avoid provocation at the Temple Mount, only women above the age of 40 and men above the age of 45 were allowed to pray there on Friday. Deir Hanna, an Arab village in the north, was set to hold one of the main Land Day events, with similar events expected to be held in Jaffa and in the Negev.

In a separate incident on Thursday night, youths from Isawiyya in east Jerusalem threw Molotov cocktails at a bus driving past Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. The bottles ignited on impact but the bus was not set on fire. “I did not believe that something like this could happen in our country,” one of the passengers said.


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