Israel on alert as Global March to Jerusalem begins

By Jennifer Lipman, March 30, 2012

Israeli security forces are on high alert today in anticipation of the Global March to Jerusalem.

The demonstration, organised by a coalition of anti-Israel groups from around the world, is expected to attract thousands of protesters.

There are a number of security concerns about the event, which will take place as Jews prepare for Shabbat and Muslims mark Friday prayers.

The date has been chosen as it coincides with Land Day, when six Arabs died protesting againstIsraeli government plans in 1976.

Demonstrations are also expected to take place in the West Bank and the Lebanon and Gaza borders. Last year on Nakba Day – another day known for anti-Israel protests - demonstrators stormed Israel’s borders from Lebanon and Syria, resulting in the deaths of 15. This year, more than 2,000 border police will be on alert at checkpoints and other key sites to avoid such clashes, with troops positioned on the northern borders as well.

The Israeli government has said it wants people to be able to mark Land Day and has instructed security forces to act with restraint.

The police have also been in contact with Arab communities and urged them to ensure the protests remain peaceful.

“We’re hoping there won’t be any major incidents,” said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. “If there are … obviously the police will respond and deal with them.”

Last updated: 11:13am, March 30 2012