Israel is prepared to handle this week’s “Global March to Jerusalem,” officials
said on Sunday, as organizers plan a multi-pronged rush on the country’s borders
to mark the 36th anniversary of Land Day on Friday.
Organizers of the
event – known as “GMJ” – say they are planning peaceful marches on the Israeli
border in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, at checkpoints in the West Bank and
at entrances to the Gaza Strip.
“Our aim is to end the Zionist policies
of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaization, which all harm the people, land
and sanctity of Jerusalem,” they wrote on the event’s official homepage. “The
GMJ is comprised of a diverse coalition of Palestinian, Arab and international
activists who are united in the struggle to liberate the holy city of Jerusalem
(the city of peace) from illegal Zionist occupation.”
processions would also be organized in Arab and Muslim capitals worldwide, and
in front of Israeli embassies in a number of unspecified
Friday marks 36 years since the first Land Day, when tens of
thousands of Israeli Arabs – and Palestinians marching in solidarity in the West
Bank, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon – rallied against government plans to take
control of hundreds of hectares of land in the Galilee and the Negev. Six Israeli Arabs were killed and around 100 were wounded
in the protests.
On Sunday, officials said security forces had been given
refresher training on non-lethal crowd dispersal techniques. They said
border police have been put on alert in Israel and the West Bank, and additional
officers deployed to the northern borders to reinforce IDF units.
been through this before,” a security source said of Friday’s planned
marches. Last May, 13 people were killed while trying to breach the
Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel on “Nakba Day,” the annual date when
Palestinians mourn the Jewish state’s creation in 1948. The following month 12
people were injured on the Syrian frontier on “Naksa Day,” marking Arab defeat
and territorial losses in the 1967 Six Day War.
Another official said all
necessary precautions were being taken, and that Jordan and Egypt had an
interest in keeping their borders quiet.
The situation in Lebanon is less
clear. One Israeli official said marchers would likely proceed as far as
Beaufort – a Crusader castle several kilometers north of the border – while
another warned that Iranian involvement in Lebanon’s south means no scenario
could be ruled out.
Earlier this week, the Israel-based Intelligence and
Terrorism Information Center reported that Iran is the primary force behind the
initiative, both directly and through proxies such as Hezbollah. In February,
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described the Global March as an expression of
Iran’s policy to strengthen “resistance operations” against Israel.
month, the GMJ website claimed a Jewish-Iranian umbrella group had thrown its
support behind the marches. “We the Iranian Jewry alongside the strata of
Iranian people, under the guidance of the leadership, announce that we shall
fight against imperialism and Zionism until all the lawful rights of the valiant
nation of Palestine are met,” the Society of Iranian Jews was quoted as
“We the Iranian Jewry would also like to show the disassociation
of the anti-humanitarian works committed by the occupying Israeli regime and
their usurping army with the commandments of divine laws of Prophet Moses
(P.B.U.H). We would like to show our support with all those who desire the
lawful rights of the valiant nation of Palestine,” the group said.
statement was signed by Ciamak Mordesadegh – who holds the one Iranian
parliamentary seat reserved for Jews – and Rabbi Mashallah Golestaninejad, a
Jewish leader in the country.
DEBKAfile reported on Friday that Hussein
Sheikholeslam – an Iranian parliamentarian it describes as one of the march’s
organizers – instructed Jewish leaders to provide 10 men aged 18 to 22 to be
given “the honor” of acting as the vanguard in breaking through the
Lebanese-Israeli border fence. The report – which could not be independently
verified – quoted Iranian sources as saying authorities may have demanded the
inclusion of Jewish marchers so Israeli soldiers would be constrained from
In January, the GMJ’s International Central Committee held
its first and only meeting in Beirut. The committee consists of anti-Israel activists from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and several other
Arab, Muslim and Western states.
The panel includes one Israeli citizen –
Muhammad Zeidan, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, a
nongovernmental organization representing Israeli Arabs at the national level.
Zeidan sailed on the Mavi Marmara
in the 2010 Gaza protest flotilla, in which
nine people were killed by Israel Navy commandos while trying to run the Israeli
One of the GMJ’s major themes is what it describes as Israel’s
“Judaization” of Jerusalem.
“Over the last several years Zionist efforts
to ‘Judaize’ the city have quickened pace in an attempt to erase Jerusalem’s
physical, cultural and spiritual characteristics,” organizers wrote, adding that
such efforts have been aimed at changing the city’s demographics “from a
Palestinian to a Jewish majority.”
The GMJ website refers to all of
Israel as occupied land.
“Massive marches will be organized in Palestine
(the 1948 seizures, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) towards Jerusalem or to
the nearest point to it,” it says.
The logo on the homepage features all
of Mandatory Palestine, and is set against a banner showing Jerusalem’s Dome of
the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Muslim and Christian holy places
are set against the backdrop of the Mount of Olives, but the sprawling
3,000-year-old Jewish cemetery with its 150,000 tombstones is absent, replaced
by a barren hillside.