29 March 2012
Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian activists are expected to attend world-wide protests on Friday to mark Land Day, an annual event that commemorates the killing of six Arabs in 1976 who were protesting against Israeli land policies. Participants in the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ said they want to "demonstrate solidarity with Palestinians and to protect Jerusalem.” The list of prominent backers of the march includes former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammed, former Anglican Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu and former Jordanian Prime Minister Ahmad Obeidat.
On their website, the campaigners write: "We condemn the Zionist campaign of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine including all ongoing policies intended to change the demographic and geographic situation in the city and aimed at its Judaisation. We also condemn the continuation of the Zionist occupation forces in building the apartheid wall that aims to expropriate more Palestinian lands and convert the occupied areas into shrinking cantons isolated from each other."
The organizers plan to send convoys of vehicles to Israel's borders simultaneously from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. According to organizers, more than 600 institutions from 64 states have been involved in planning the march. Protests are also planned outside Israeli embassies in European and Arab countries.
A statement released by the Israel Defense Forces said that the military was "prepared for any eventuality and will do whatever is necessary to protect Israeli borders and residents." Israel has also issued a warning to Arab countries and Palestinians to refrain from approaching the border. Soldiers along the border have been instructed to be on high alert and they will reportedly have crowd-dispersal means at their disposal.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role in five murders during the Second Intifada, called on Palestinians to launch a popular resistance campaign against Israel. His statement, issued in advance of Land Day, called on the Palestinian Authority to stop all coordination with Israel in the economic and security realms and to stop peace negotiations.
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