Several dozen people were arrested in Syria during anti-government protests this week, but it appears that the civil unrest sweeping through the Arab world has yet to reach significant levels there.
However, on Thursday activists used online social networks to declare Friday as a "day of honor" against President Bashar Assad's regime. "Let us all – men and women – hold non-violent demonstrations after (Friday) prayers and demand our human rights," read one of the messages posted online.
Meanwhile, another rally held outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday was dispersed by security personnel. According to reports, some force was used.
Also Thursday, activists who posted a video on the Internet claimed it shows plain-clothed Syrian security officers beating a protestor in Damascus.
Earlier this week the Al Watan daily accused Israel of sending text messages urging Syrian citizens to protest against Assad's regime. The newspaper quoted "an official in a Syrian communications company" as saying that "a large number of residents complained that they had received text messages on their cell phones calling on them to join the riots."
The same source was also quoted as saying that an investigation found that the messages had been sent from "a military base in Tel Hashomem (apparently referring to Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv) in Palestine, where the Israeli army concentrates its intelligence units."
However, an Arab source who is familiar with the details told Ynet, "It wasn't Israel that sent the messages. I sent the messages along with other people. They were sent from outside of Syria, because if you try to do it from inside the country you'll get arrested. Israel was not involved at all. Most of those who sent the messages do not like Israel. These are elements that oppose the Syrian regime."
The text messages, he said, called on citizens to "take to the streets and say 'no' to Assad. People are complaining that the regime criticizes Israel for using violence against the Palestinian people, while it (regime) uses violence against its own people."
The source said Syrian security apparatuses were placed on the "highest alert level," adding that officers "walk around in civilian clothes but with Kalashnikov rifles underneath, to scare the people.
"We haven't witnessed such anti-regime protests in two years. The Syrian regime is weaker now," he said.
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