Sunday, March 25, 2012

Report: Israel issues warning as Land Day approaches

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) -- Israel is preparing for Palestinian Land Day by putting its army on alert and urging protesters to stay away from its borders, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Israel called on surrounding countries to prevent demonstrators from approaching its borders, Israeli radio news station Reshet Bet said.

The Israeli army has also increased its alert levels and drafted in extra battalions in case of any potential escalation, Israel's Ynet news-site reported.

Last Land Day saw Palestinians protest across the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel without casualties.

But two months later simultaneous rallies to commemorate the Nakba -- the 'catastrophe' when thousands of Palestinians were forced out or fled in fighting that led to Israel's founding -- brought thousands towards Israel's borders in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, leaving 13 dead by Israeli fire.

Organizers of an international rally to support Palestinians said last week that they are not interested in confrontation with the Israeli army.

Zahir Al-Birawi told Ma'an he expects millions to take part this year, and popular protests have been coordinated with governments in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, although not in Syria.

Organizers are waiting for confirmation from the Jordanian government on the most appropriate location for the country's protests, while in Egypt protests are planned at Al-Azhar Mosque, Tahrir Square, and a commemorative sports tournament in Cairo.

Land Day commemorates the death of six Palestinian citizens of Israel, who took part in a general strike in protest of an Israeli decision to confiscate privately owned Palestinian lands in 1976.
Maan News Agency

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