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IDF patrolling border near Majdal Shams
Photo: Reuters
Report: Syria cancels 'Naksa Day' border march
Organizers offer no explanation for nixing march to Israel's borders, but say protests will go on in refugee camps; IDF continue to brace for event

Palestinians in Syria canceled plans to march to the border with the Golan Heights on Sunday's "Naksa Day" - the anniversary of the 1967 war in which Israel captured the territory. Palestinians in Lebanon have also scrapped border rallies.

 

An organizer of Sunday's protests in Syria, Khaled Abdul-Majid, gave no explanation for the cancellation but promised the march would be held at a future date.

 

 

The official Egyptian news agency reported that the cancellation in Syria show that the authorities in Damascus disallowed the rally. Abdul-Majid stressed that protest events marking "Naksa Day" will go on in the Palestinian refugee camps in "Palestine and Lebanon."

 

'Peaceful way to embarrass enemy'

The march in Lebanon had to be abandoned after Lebanese authorities declared the area around the border a closed military zone to prevent the demonstration. Instead, strikes were planned for all 12 of Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, organizers said Friday.

 

An unknown organization titled "The Association of Lebanese National Parties, Forces and People" issued a statement declaring that "Lebanon cannot let external pressures affect its national principles, especially the support for the Palestinian people in their critical choices and their peaceful means of embarrassing the enemy."

 

Another group, known as "Al-Tawhid Al-Islami," released a statement slamming the "pressures" that brought to the cancellation of Sunday's march. "This postponement is a result of international pressure applied by the American government on the Lebanese authorities not to repeat the May 15 rally, which exposed the Zionist entity as a weak entity," the statement read.

 

Bracing for possible protest

The borders were quiet on Saturday, but Israeli security forces were bracing for possible protests.

Lebanese and UN armored personnel carriers patrolled the Lebanon-Israel border and a UN helicopter flew overhead.

 

Half a dozen Israeli soldiers stopped cars driving toward Majdal Shams, the border village in the Israeli-occupied Golan that became the epicenter of last month's protests after the border breach. Six Israeli police vans and a water cannon were parked in a lot nearby.

 

Village residents said Israeli tanks had been patrolling the Syrian border for the past two weeks. Since the border breach, the military has fortified the frontier with trenches and minefields.

 

Similar protests turned deadly on May 15 when thousands of Arab protesters mobilized by calls on Facebook surged up to Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations. Those marches were to commemorate another key anniversary – of Israel's 1948 creation – and sparked clashes that killed at least 15 people.

 

In the marches in May, hundreds of Palestinians and their supporters poured across the Syrian frontier and staged riots, drawing Israeli accusations that Damascus, and its ally Iran, orchestrated the unrest to shift attention from an uprising back home.

 

Roee Nahmias contributed to the report

 

 

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