Israel's neighbors gearing up for Land Day– Lebanese newspaper Daily Star on Friday reported that the country has raised its alert level ahead of Land Day protests planned by Palestinians living in Lebanon. Earlier this week, the newspaper reported that some 30,000 people are scheduled to participate in processions across the country.
According to the report, the Lebanese army set up two central checkpoints – one on the main road near the village of Zahrani, and another one on an inner road leading to southern Lebanon.
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Lebanese army forces also boosted security measures at the entrance to the Beaufort Castle, and are checking vehicles passing through nearby roads in an effort to prevent a repetition of last May's Nakba Day protests, when IDF forces clashed with Palestinians refugees along the Lebanese border.
Meanwhile, IDF deployed additional police and Border guard forces along the northern border. The forces are equipped with crowd dispersal and anti-riot measures.
Police stated that orders were given to the forces to maintain restraint and prevent protesters from reaching the border fence.
Chief of Staff Gantz at Jordanian border (Photo: IDF)
Chief of Staff Lieutenant general Benny Gantz patrolled along the northern border and held an assessment meeting with division commanders in Judea and Samaria and along the borders with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Gantz directed the forces to be alert and act advisedly to ensure the sovereignty of Israel.
Inside Israel, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Eitan Dangot arrived at the Rachel's Tomb crossing in south Jerusalem and met with IDF, police and Civil Administration official at the situation room set up in preparation for Land Day.
Dangot was briefed on the deployment of forces and coordination with Palestinian security apparatus, and informed about a procession that is underway in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Further north, some 200 people attended a parade marking Land Day in Kafr Kanna near Nazareth. The protesters waved Palestinian flags and called out for the struggle against land expropriation and home demolitions. They also demanded that the fight against racism and discrimination continue
'Syrians won't march to Golan'
The organizer of Land Day protests in Syria, Khaled Abdul-Majid, told a Russian news agency that protesters were not planning to march to the Golan Heights.
Getting ready at Mitzpe Avivim (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
Majid noted that protesters from over 15 countries are scheduled to gather in a Damascus square later on Friday.
In an interview with a Hezbollah-affiliated website, Majid said that certain elements tried to thwart the gathering, while the Syrian leadership supported the initiative and gave the organizers all the necessary permits to hold the event.
Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh also commented on the events scheduled for Land Day, saying that "the processions herald the looming liberation of al-Aqsa mosque from the defilement of occupation."
Israel-Syria border (Photo: Reuters)
Haniyeh called on the Arab and Muslim countries to raise media attention "in order to expose Jerusalem's ongoing process of Judaization," stressing the need for Arab and Muslim unity in order to liberate the city.
The Hamas prime minister added that Land Day is a historic day "that sends a strong message to Israel by which the expansion of settlements and Judaization of Jerusalem will not change the importance of city in the hearts of Muslims and Palestinians."
Haniyeh noted that Israel is concerned about the processions, but explained that they will be carried out in a dignified manner and remain non-partisan and non-violent.
Also on Friday, the PLO issued a statement in which it said that the land was always and is still the main bone of contention in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. "The Palestinian people have a right to the land of their grandfathers and sons. The world must remember that the basic struggle of the Palestinian people is over the land.
"Israel's continued policy of infringing the rights of the Palestinian people and destroying the two-state solution will bare disastrous consequences on the entire world," the statement read.
Roi Kais, Hassan Shaalan and Maor Buchnik contributed to this report
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