IDF and police forces are on high alert and have shored up their presence on
several of Israel’s frontiers ahead of Sunday’s anticipated border marches to
commemorate the Palestinian “Naksa,” or “setback” in the 1967 Six Day War. A
wide-scale Internet campaign has called for protests in the West Bank and
Jerusalem, on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and outside its
embassies in Cairo and Amman.
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Security forces are concentrating on
reinforcing the Golan Heights border areas opposite Quneitra and at Majdal
Shams, where on May 15, approximately 100 Syrians breached the security fence in
rallies marking the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” of Israel’s founding in
Early Sunday morning, some thirty demonstrators gathered on the Syrian side of the border, but did not appear to be approaching the fence, Israel Radio reported. IDF forces were in the area.
Sunday marks the first day of the 1967 war, in which Israel
expanded its territory to include east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Golan Heights,
Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula.
Demonstrations have also been planned for
Tuesday, the anniversary of Israel taking control of east Jerusalem.
Internet campaign “Third Palestinian Intifada” has called on Palestinians and
Israeli Arabs to march on Jerusalem’s Al-Aksa Mosque in a show of “allegiance”
to the city.
Organizers in Lebanon canceled Sunday’s march on the Israeli
border, Beirut’s Daily Star reported Saturday, following pressure from the
Lebanese authorities. Late last week the Lebanese military declared the border
area a closed military zone.
“There won’t be anything for Sunday. There
won’t be a protest march Sunday,” said Yasser Azzam, a Hamas official and
organizer of the march. A march organizer told the paper last week that
protesters would reach the Israeli border eventually, even if later than the
June 5 target date.
Reports emerged late Saturday night that the march in
Syria could also be canceled.
Egypt’s official news agency reported that
the planned procession from Syria to Israel’s Golan Heights border would not
take place on Sunday as planned.
The MENA news agency reported that the
head of the committee representing Syria’s various factions announced that the
event has been postponed, and that Naksa Day rallies were to be marked within
Syria and Lebanon instead.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby
said it was difficult to tell whether the decision to cancel demonstrations in
Lebanon would lead organizers to turn Jerusalem into the protest
“They’re two different places with two different
populations, but we’re ready for anything,” he said.
A day earlier,
police beefed up their presence in the capital for fears of Naksa-inspired riots
erupting after Muslim afternoon prayers. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told
the DPA news agency that the reinforced presence was not based on any concrete
warnings, rather a general assessment of potential trouble.
also imposed restrictions on entry to the Temple Mount Compound in the Old City,
the agency reported, and have limited entry to men over 45 and
Sunday has been billed as the climax of the three-day “Naksa Day”
commemoration, but protests got underway in several locations this
On Friday, around 150 Jordanians gathered outside the Israeli
embassy in Amman demanding the annulment of the 1994 peace treatybetween the neighboring countries.
Demonstrators chanted pro- Palestinian
slogans, demanded the embassy be closed and the ambassador extradited. Iran’s
English-language Press TV reported that demonstrators burned Israeli flags and
shouted “No Zionist embassy on Jordanian land,” and calls for unity between
Palestinians and Jordanians.
The following day, members of the United
Arab List-Ta’al party attempted to hold a rally in Majdal Shams, but were denied
entry by police. Instead, Druse leaders met the activists, including MK Taleb
A-Sanaa (United Arab List), on the road leading to the village. Waving
Palestinian flags, protesters chanted “the Golan Heights are Arab” and slogans
against Israeli rule over the strategic plateau.
“We want to send a
message against the occupation. This is an important task and our message is
legitimate and that is why I am asking that we be allowed to reach the Golan,
because the people accompanying me are not criminals and we won’t not hurt
anyone,” Sanaa said. “Many people are passing where we have been stopped and
were not checked, as they are Jewish.
“We shall return to visit Majdal
Shams,” Sanaa said after the rally dispersed. “No police measure will prevent us
from voicing our opinions and fighting against the occupation.”
week, Israeli security sources said the army would deliver a “firm yet
non-lethal response” to any infiltration attempt, and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s obligation to defend its borders.
country in the world, Israel has the right and obligation to guard and defend
its borders. Therefore my instructions are clear, to act with restraint, but
with the required determination, to protect our borders, our communities and our
citizens,” he told a hi-tech conference in Jerusalem.
Melanie Lidman and
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.