Israel - Land Day and Arab Israelis
The reason that the "Global March" has been scheduled for tomorrow, March 30, is because this is the anniversary of "Land Day." According to AFP, "Land Day is held every year on March 30 to mark the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during several mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee." The main demonstration in Israel will occur in Deir Hanna in the Galilee.
Preparations in Israeli itself include (according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and AP):
Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who oversees the national police force, said officers would be spread out in potentially explosive areas Friday but would not enter Arab villages unless needed. "The guidelines are to allow everyone to mark Land Day quietly ... We will keep a low profile," he told Israel Radio.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said thousands of officers were on the move throughout the country Thursday in preparation for Land Day. He said the biggest deployments were near Arab towns in northern Israel and in Jerusalem. He said police were in touch with leaders of Arab communities in Israel in an attempt to keep protests peaceful. "We're hoping there won't be any major incidents," he said. "If there are ... obviously the police will respond and deal with them."
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem police have raised the alert level for tomorrow. "Thousands of police officers will fan out across Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the alleyways of the Old City and crossings such as the Kalandia checkpoint to Ramallah and the Rachel Checkpoint to Bethlehem, said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby."
Palestine and Palestinian Authority
In Palestine itself, protestors will concentrate on crossing points from Palestinian territory into Israel, especially the checkpoint at Qalandiya. They will also be demonstrating in Bethlehem, and at the approach to the crossing into Israeli territory at Rachel's Tomb. In Gaza, they will be marching towards the Erez crossing into Israel. In Lebanon, they will convene at the Beaufort, which is a few miles from the northern border of Israel. In Jordan, they will gather at the site where it is believed that Jesus was baptised.
My expectation is that there will be violence at all of the crossing points, especially at Qalandiya, where there have been continuing protests and frequent violent clashes with the Israeli Border Police.
Sa'id Yakin, one of the protest organizers in the Palestinian Authority, told Ynet that rallies will be held at three West Bank focal points. "We expect thousands of participants," Yakin said. "We have no interest in confrontation, and this march will not give rise to a third Intifada. We hope this move will affect Israel and its government's policy." Palestinian security officials are also preparing for the weekend's events and are estimating that most marchers won't be able to get through local roadblocks and approach Israeli territory.The AP reports: "Mahmoud Aloul, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank involved in preparations, said demonstrations were to be held in Jerusalem, the Qalandiya checkpoint — a frequent flashpoint of violence on the outskirts of Jerusalem — and in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Khaled Abu Toameh in the Jerusalem Post reports also about Aloul:
Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah official, said that most of the protests in the West Bank will take place at the main entrances to Jerusalem. He voiced hope that tens of thousands of Palestinians would take part in the protests, which are expected to begin immediately after Friday prayers. The mass protests are intended to reflect the Palestinians' objection to Israeli occupation, Aloul explained.
The AP reports: "Activists in Gaza planned to hold a demonstration about a kilometer (half a mile) from the Israeli border, but said they did not plan to move closer, minimizing the chance of clashes." Khaled Abu Toameh also reports: "In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials also urged Palestinians to participate in Friday's marches and protests. Hamas is hoping that thousands of Palestinians would march toward the Erez border crossing with Israel after Friday prayers."
Ynet reports that "In Lebanon, participants will convene for a prayer session on the Beaufort, which overlooks the border with Israel. Public figures are expected to deliver a speech at the site, with organizers looking forward to welcoming tens of thousands of participants." AP also reports: "Likewise, authorities in Lebanon and Jordan said they would keep demonstrators far from the Israeli border. Several thousand protesters were expected in each place. It was unclear whether protesters would gather in Syria, which is in the midst of a vicious civil war that has left thousands dead over the past year."
Jordan has set the gathering point at the site where it is believed that Jesus was baptized, a location overlooking Jerusalem. According to plans, this rally will also include speeches and masses of protestors. Jordanian coordinator of the march, Ribhi Halloum, said: "We feel the immense interest in the event expressed through donations from private individuals and the Islamic Movement."The Al-Dustour newspaper reported that Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh expressed his readiness to provide the Jordanian government's sponsorship to the march which he said would be non-violent.
Israel is also making preparations along the border with Syria. On Yom al-Nakba (May 15) and Yom al-Naksa (June 5) last year there were attempts to enter Israel at Majdal Shams, a Druze town very close to the Syrian border in the Golan Heights, and at Quneitra. Israel has strengthened the border fence near Majdal Shams, as the photo below shows.
Israeli soldiers stand on the border fence between Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, and Syria, as security is tightened ahead of Land Day, Thursday, March 29, 2012. March 30 is traditionally marked by Israeli Arabs as "Land Day," a time of protests against the confiscation of Arab-owned lands by Israel. In recent years, Palestinians have joined in. Photo: Hamad Almakt / AP (http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Palestinians-Prisoner-ends-44-day-hunger-strike-3444158.php#photo-2752110).