A Global March to Jerusalem on the occasion of Land Day will take place on March 30. Convoys from Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority are scheduled to arrive at Israel's borders at 11am at the end of Friday prayers.
Organizers are claiming that more than 700 institutions from 64 countries support the initiative, directly or indirectly. Protests will also be held outside Israeli embassies in various European and Arab countries. It appears no marches will be leaving Egypt and Syria due to the volatile political climate in those countries.
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Organizers are using social networks to attract Arabs to take part in the event. In one Facebook page it was claimed that the goal was to reach Jerusalem "or the nearest point to it."
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for the Global March to Jerusalem's official site
Said Yakin, one of the organizers of the event at the Palestinian Authority said they do not intend to use violence and added that the protest will be attended by parliament members, citizens and clerics from around the world, including Jews. "The protest will not be violent," Yakin told Ynet. "We don't expect the IDF to fire at the protesters just as it didn’t fire at the million Israeli social protesters last summer."
Official song posted on march's website
The march is set to commence one or two days prior to Land Day with events in the capital cities of neighboring countries. The Palestinian march will start in two points: the Qalandiya checkpoint and the Rachel's Tomb crossing.
Yakin said that the reason that the Palestinian march will be leaving from Area C is so as not to "give Israel the opportunity to enter the Palestinian Authority."
According to the Yakin, a large rally will be also held in Gaza but protesters are not expected to approach the border fence or the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.
Syrian citizens storm border last May (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
"We believe that the international community has failed as it has not managed to force Israel to stop the Judaization of Jerusalem, the settlements and the separation fence," Yakin said. "Jerusalem is the key to both peace and war. We do not want Jerusalem to turn into the city of death but the city of life for all people."
Yakin denies that Iran is involved in funding the event yet various media reports indicate that Tehran is supporting the march both in declarations, propaganda and in organizing the event. This raises doubts over the organizers' statements that the marches will not be of a violent nature. It should be noted that Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad in Lebanon are all taking part in preparations for the events.
Iran's spiritual leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei announced at the end of February that he supports marches on Jerusalem as he believes Iran must openly support movements and groups acting against Israel. Like other Arab countries, Iran has also established a local organizing body to prepare for the marches, with Hussein Sheikh al-Islam acting as coordinator of the local convoy.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met on Sunday with participants of the Global March to Jerusalem where he said it was no longer legitimate for Israel to occupy any part of Palestine. "The Palestinians should be running the field and God willing that will happen soon."
The Iranian involvement is most evident in Lebanon where Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are taking part in organizing the event. A meeting on the matter held in February at Hamas headquarters in Beirut included representatives from Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other Islamic movements in Lebanon.
The Global March to Jerusalem official website includes content in Arabic and English and the Facebook page has just over 6,000 members. Yet the official organizer of the event, Zaher Birawi, says that organizers are expecting hundreds of thousands of marchers. In interviews with the media he claimed that "We are after all not an army, but popular peaceful international forces aiming to show solidarity with Palestine and with Jerusalem."
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