Land Day ends, IDF prepares for future clashes

Organizer calls event a success, cites participation from 84 countries; 1 Palestinian killed, dozens injured in W. Bank, Gaza clashes.

By OREN KESSLER
April 1, 2012 02:20
2 minute read.
Child throws stone during Land Day protest

Child throws stone during Land Day protest 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) ended Friday evening with minimal violence but the IDF said it was already preparing for the next round of clashes expected in mid-April.

One Palestinian was killed during clashes in the Gaza Strip where IDF snipers shot at the legs of demonstrators who tried storming the Erez Crossing.

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Other hot spots included the Kalandiya crossing near Jerusalem and Nabi Salih in the West Bank. Several dozen were injured in the West Bank but mostly from tear gas.

Despite the relatively quiet outcome, IDF sources said they expected additional – possibly more violent – demonstrations on a day that commemorates Palestinian prisoners on April 17 as well as on Nakba Day and Naksa Day in the coming months.

“There are still challenges ahead and violence could escalate in the future,” a senior IDF officer said.

The GMJ general coordinator had promised “two million participants,” but ultimately only a few thousand marchers showed up in the vicinity of Israel’s borders, primarily in Jordan and Lebanon.

Israel had warned the governments of neighboring countries not to let protesters approach its border, and the warning appears to have been largely effective.

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In Jordan, around 15,000 people assembled in the central Jordan Valley near the Israeli border. The rally was led by the Muslim Brotherhood, and also in attendance were four rabbis from Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist ultra- Orthodox movement.

Protesters were kept from approaching the border fence by Jordanian police forces.

Soldiers in Lebanon restricted the demonstration to Beaufort, a castle 20 kilometers from the border. Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered there, most of Palestinian origin.

Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper reported that Hezbollah had downsized its participation in the rally due to fears of protesters chanting slogans against Syrian President Bashar Assad – an ally of the group. The paper released images of two Neturei Karta rabbis attending the event alongside Shi’ite clerics.

In Syria, a few thousand protesters rallied in a central Damascus square, but there was no march on the border with the Golan Heights as there was during last year’s Nakba Day and Naksa Day rallies.

Security forces in Egypt prevented any protest from taking place, citing security concerns.

Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted general coordinator of the march, Ribhi Halloum, as saying that the rally lay the groundwork for future activity and proved that “the Palestinian people are still present and are still holding fast to their land.” Halloum claimed that activists from 84 countries participated in various pro-Palestinian rallies around the world on Friday.

Israeli security forces shot dead one man in the Gaza Strip on Friday, medics said.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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