The Israel Defense Forces has completed deploying along Israel’s borders in anticipation of possible disturbances and violence during the upcoming “Global March to Jerusalem.” The march is scheduled for Friday, March 30, a day Israeli Arabs call “Land Day,” which commemorates the day in 1976 that Palestinians called a general strike to protest Israel’s declared intention to expropriate land for settlements and security. The day has since become a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.
Officers of units that were likely to be involved in possible violent confrontations reiterated instructions to soldiers on rules of engagement and some units received reinforcements and crowd dispersal equipment.
Despite the high alert and preparations for worst-case scenarios, the intelligence assessment was that only a relatively limited amount of demonstrators would participate in the events, and defense and security officials were mainly concerned with what might happen on the border with Lebanon.
IDF forces were also deployed along the Syrian border and in territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
Organizers of the march said that hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Arab countries, Gaza and Judea and Samaria will join the march. Dr. Ribhi Halloum, the march’s general coordinator, said, “The aim of the Al Quds march is to express a message of protest and condemnation against the policy of Israeli occupation in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
According to Halloum, organizers of the march managed to thwart attempts by local radical groups to recruit participants from Arab countries to commit violent acts during the march and even breach Israel’s borders, similar to the events of last year. “We will under no circumstances agree to violence or a violation of the borders. We will maintain the policy of non-violent protest we have agreed to uphold,” Halloum said.
Lebanese media reported on Monday that Lebanon’s Defense Ministry officially said it would not allow protesters to march southward beyond the Litani River. Reports also claimed that Syrian leaders would not permit marching altogether in Syria due to the crisis within the country, with government leaders fearing opposition forces would turn the march against the Syrian regime.
During last year’s Nakba Day rallies, dozens of Syrian protesters breached the border fence and infiltrated into Israel, creating mass disturbances in the Druze town of Majdal Shams on the Golan Heights. One of the infiltrators even made his way to Jaffa after getting a ride to Tel Aviv from activists. He later turned himself in to police.