Border Police near the Old City of Jerusalem 370 (R).
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / Reuters)
The IDF and Israel Police went on high alert and imposed a full closure on the West Bank, limited access to the Temple Mount and were preventing protesters from reaching the Lebanese border area ahead of a day of expected protests marking Land Day and the Global March to Jerusalem Friday.
Preparations were taking place along all of Israel’s fronts. The IDF announced that Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered West Bank crossings closed for a 24-hour period.
Large numbers of police and border police forces were deployed in and around Moshav Avivim near the Lebanese border Friday morning ahead expected protests. Checkpoints were set up to prevent protesters from reaching the border area.
A chief superintendent in the police's Northern District said the preparations were designed with lessons learned from the events of last year. Police were armed with crowd control means including tear gas and riot gear.
Police said they were coordinating with the army, who was in turn coordinating with the United Nations in Lebanon.
In addition, police came armed with a general's order that gives them the authority to prevent people from reaching the border in the case that clashes break out. Police had not begun stopping movement in the border area but said they were prepared to do so.
On the northern side of the border, the Lebanese Armed Forces and police were also out in force along the border and at the Beaufort castle, where some 4,000 protesters are expected later in the day, Lebanese daily an-Nahar reported. UNIFIL was also said to be conducting patrols and monitoring activity along the northern side of the border.
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IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz toured the West Bank and Syrian
border Friday morning ahead of the planned protests.
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.
As part of preparations in the capital, police said they would limit the access of Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount for Friday prayers. Only men over the age of 40 in possession of a blue Israeli identity card and women will be given access to the Temple Mount on Friday in an attempt to limit disturbances.
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.Yaakov Katz, Yaakov Lappin and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.
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