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IDF gears up to repel ‘global march’ to Jerusalem

Next Friday, 30th March, is Land Day, a day commemorating protests in 1976 at the Israeli government’s announcement that it would expropriate a large area of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes”.

A body called Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) is organising mass walking to arrive in Jerusalem on that day. The march has been widely endorsed – and attacked by Israeli advocates for some of the more disreputable supporters such as Gilad Atzmon. In Britain, Palestine Solidarity Campaign is organising a day of action to highlight the activities in Jerusalem of French multinational Veolia.

This posting has GMJ’s ‘About Us’ statement, a report from Ynet news about the IDF’s preparations to block the march, and an interview from +972 with Mustafa Barghouti on why he is supporting the Land Day march

The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) – 30th March 2012
GMJ About Us

The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) is a groundbreaking new initiative that is organising non-violent civil resistance on 30th March 2012 in Palestine and the four neighbouring countries: Egypt, Lebanon Jordan and Syria.

The GMJ is comprised of a diverse coalition of Palestinian, Arab and international activists who are united in the struggle to liberate the holy city of Jerusalem (the city of Peace) from illegal Zionist occupation.

The peaceful marchers will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people. Our aim is to end the Zionist policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation, which all harm the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem. Judaisation has involved the unrestricted expansion and funding of illegal Israeli settlements, the continued dispossession and demolition of Palestinian property, and the construction of a Separation Wall surrounding the city, all of which have changed the demographics of the holy city from a Palestinian to a Jewish majority.

Global participation in the march will confirm to the world that these policies and practices of the racist state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.

The march will unite the efforts of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all citizens of conscience in the world to put an end to Israel’s disregard for international law through the continuing occupation of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestinian land.

While the GMJ is made up of grassroots movements in each participating country, the march is centralized through an International Central Committee, consisting of 42 elected regional delegates. National delegates will appoint 15 members for the International Executive Committee and recruit hundreds of dignitaries and luminaries for the International Advisory Board.

Our plan is to organize massive marches towards Jerusalem, or to the nearest point possible according to the circumstances of each country, in Palestine (the 1948 seizures, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and the four neighbouring countries: Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Internationals will participate in land caravans or fly directly to one of the main sites for the march. In addition, mass protests will be organised in front of Israeli embassies in the capitals of different countries, or in the main public squares in the big cities of the world.

The recent successes of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions are a reminder that this inspirational movement for nonviolent civil resistance was actually born in Palestine with the first Intifada. By renewing the struggle to liberate Palestine through a peaceful national mass movement that is supported by the global community, we aim to change the nature of the confrontation by compelling the occupiers to face millions of demonstrators demanding Freedom for Palestine and its capital Jerusalem.

IDF gears up for Global March to Jerusalem

Activists from Arab states, PA territories prepare for Friday’s march which may involve a storming of Israel’s borders. IDF instructs troops to prevent violation of Israel’s sovereignty with minimum harm to protesters

Ynet reporters

The IDF is gearing up to a possible storming of Israeli borders as part of the Global March to Jerusalem set for Friday, March 30. Israel has issued a clear warning to Arab states and the Palestinian Authority against allowing the march.

Soldiers deployed along Israel’s borders have been instructed to increase their level of alert. IDF preparations are based on the “Summer Seeds” operation which was meant to tackle any flare-up following last year’s Palestinian statehood bid. Israel feared major Arab and Palestinian riots at the time.

The troops will have at their disposal the crowd-dispersal means purchased to handle the UN bid.
Several battalions have also been secured as auxiliary forces if a need for them arises.

Since last year’s violent Nakba Day and Naksa Day events, the IDF’s Engineering Corps has performed upgrades along Israel’s border with Syria. The old fence has been replaced and potholes have been dug along the border.

The forces will be instructed to prevent any violation of Israeli sovereignty with minimum harm to protesters, should they approach the border. Security officials have coordinated efforts with the Palestinian security forces in order to prevent any spillage into Israel.

Over the weekend, the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that Israel sent a warning to the governments of Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority following the Nakba and Naksa day events. Israel demanded that they not to allow marches on its borders which could escalate the situation in the region.

The Jordanian government spokesman said in response that “Jordan has not received any official message from Israel on the prevention of the Global March to Jerusalem” adding that the government cannot prevent people from expressing demands so long as they are conveyed in an non-violent matter.

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood movement stressed that the march will not be violent and that its men will not attempt to cross the borders.
Over the weekend, Global March participants from Asia held a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in Turkey demanding to “free Palestine from the Israeli occupation.” An Iranian artist said that the Palestinian issue is the most important issue for mankind.

A Turkish activist said that “we are reminded of what the Ayatollah Khamenei said; that were every Muslim to throw a bucket of water at the Israeli entity, it would sink.” The activist called on all Muslims to follow Khamenei’s path in order to free Palestine.

Arab media have been reporting that the first group from the Asian convoy arrived in Damascus on Saturday in order to take part in the protest.

Activists involved with the organization of the march said that another group will arrive in Syria via land from 15 Asian countries. It was further reported that a marches will begin in Syria in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Higher Arab Monitoring Committee is planning on holding the annual Land Day events this weekend. Organizers have decided that the Palestinian flag will be the only flag to be flown and it will be flown at all events.

They have decided that this year’s events which will take place on Friday will be commemorated under the heading “Save the lands and prevent Judaization of Jerusalem.” Thousands are set to take part in the main parade in Dir Hana in the lower Galilee.

Monitoring Committee chairman Muhammad Zidan told Ynet that “the subject of lands was very sensitive and important and we must continue in our struggle against land expropriation in the sector.

“Land Day reminds us of the martyrs who have fallen and are deserved to be remembered.” Zidan added: “We have demanded that the police not enter Arab towns on Land Day so that order will be maintained without rioting.”

A protest march is set to set out from the Jaffa port on Saturday and according to organizers, some 6,000 people are expected to take part.
Northern District Police Spokesman Chief Superintendent Yehuda Maman told Ynet about the police’s preparations for the Land Day events. “Like every year, police forces will remain outside the Arab villages,” he said. Police officers are in constant communication with the Arab sector leadership in efforts to maintain a calm atmosphere. We will allow parades but will not allow riots or law breaking.”

Activists worldwide to mark Land Day with Global March to Jerusalem

To commemorate Land Day this year, Palestinians are planning a Global March to Jerusalem to highlight processes of land theft and dispossession in the city. Elsa Rassbach speaks with Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti on Jerusalem and the non-violent resistance movement.

By Elsa Rassbach, +972

On March 30 each year, Palestinians celebrate Land Day as a day of national struggle to commemorate protests in 1976 against Israeli confiscation of Arab land. The confiscation that sparked the protests took place in the Galilee and was seen as part of an Israeli policy to deliberately produce demographic change and create Jewish majorities in certain communities. The 1976 marches and general strikes spread to the Negev, resulted in the deaths of six unarmed Arab Israelis, and marked the first large-scale rebellion of Arab inhabitants of Israel after 1948. Widespread solidarity protests took place in the West Bank, Gaza, and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

This year on Land Day, Palestinians throughout the Middle East and in the diaspora will call attention to the dangers facing the city of Jerusalem. The organizers of the “Global March to Jerusalem” allege that through methods of ethnic cleansing, Israel is forcing out Jerusalem’s remaining Arab inhabitants, thus endangering the multi-religious, multi-ethnic character of the city, part of which is the intended capital of a future Palestinian state. The Israeli government has long denied most Palestinians – whether Muslim or Christian – access to Jerusalem, even to visit holy sites.

On March 30, the Palestinians will attempt to get as close to Jerusalem as they can, including at the borders of Lebanon and Jordan, at checkpoints in the West Bank and at the Erez border crossing in Gaza. Demonstrations will also be held in Jerusalem itself. Supporters from five continents will join the march, and an advisory board to the Global March includes Nobel Peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire. Solidarity vigils and actions are also planned on March 30 at Israeli embassies and other locations in sixty cities around the world.

The Palestinian coalition organizing this Global March to Jerusalem may be unprecedented in its breadth. But after supporters from India, Malaysia, Pakistan and other Asian countries visited Iran on their way to Lebanon to join the March, some Israeli and U.S. press alleged it is being orchestrated from Iran and that violent clashes with Israeli forces are planned.

Among the most outspoken Palestinian supporters and organizers of the Global March is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, 58, the well-known advocate of non-violent resistance. As secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Barghouti played a key role in recent attempts to bring Hamas and Fatah together. He is medical doctor educated in the former Soviet Union, the United States and Jerusalem. He founded and leads Palestinian Medical Relief society, which provides health care to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2005, Dr. Barghouti ran for presidency of the Palestinian National Authority and won 19 percent of the vote. He resides in Ramallah in the West Bank. We recently spoke via Skype about the Global March to Jerusalem.

You have joined with Palestinians from many different political perspectives and many places in the world to call for the Global March to Jerusalem. What is this initiative about?

It’s an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It will take place on Land Day, March 30th, a day that symbolizes the unity of Palestinians in the struggle for freedom and dignity and against theft of their land. We hope to bring to the world’s attention the very grave violations that Israel is committing against Jerusalem. Both the UN and the International Court of Justice hold that annexation of East Jerusalem, which is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is a violation of international law.

But there is illegal Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land throughout the Occupied Territories and also within Israel. Why the focus on Jerusalem?

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian cause. East Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestinian state. If Jerusalem is lost, the whole concept and idea of Palestinian statehood is lost, and the possibility of peace is lost. And Jerusalem is an important place for all of humanity, a holy place for Muslims, Christians, and the Jewish people. It should be the place where peace begins.

Today in Jerusalem you see the Israeli system of segregation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing in the sharpest possible way. If a Palestinian man from Jerusalem marries a woman in Ramallah, only sixteen kilometers away, he will not be able to live with her. The Israelis will never grant her the right to move to Jerusalem, but if he moves to Ramallah, he will lose his ID and his residency permit in Jerusalem. And the permit may be withdrawn for political reasons as well. Though I was born in Jerusalem and worked there as a medical doctor for fifteen years, after I ran for president in 2005, the Israeli army thereafter refused to allow me in. Most Palestinians, including Christians and Muslims, also cannot enter.

But any Jewish person from anywhere in the world who decides to immigrate to Israel, whether from Siberia or the United States, will immediately be granted the right to live in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Jerusalem is accessible to every Jewish person. It should be accessible to everybody. Many Jewish people from Israel and other parts of the world agree and are participating in and even organizing the Global March.

Among the demands of the March is “the right of return.” Why would Palestinians who live in historical Palestine support such a demand?

This demand means a lot to us, too, because there are huge numbers of refugees living in Gaza and West Bank who are denied access to the place they were forced to leave. Even Palestinians living in Israel who carry Israeli citizenship are not allowed to return home to their villages in Israel like Iqrit and Kafr Bir’im. The right of return is a right recognized by international law under a special UN resolution, 194. We do understand that its implementation will have to be negotiated, but the right itself has to be respected.

Last year on May 15, which is both Nakba Day and Israeli Independence Day, and on June 5, Naksa Day, the anniversary of the 1967 war, unarmed Palestinians tried to cross over the borders of Lebanon and Syria. According to some reports, in the two events, Israeli soldiers killed dozens, and wounded hundreds more. Could the Global March lead to a repeat of such violence?

The March will be an act of peace, an act of nonviolence, and that’s why Palestinians everywhere are united in supporting it. It reflects the consensus of Palestinians today on adopting nonviolence totally. We know that Israel is capable of terrible violence. All the organizers in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Israel/Palestine are aware of this risk. We hope that the U.S. and the European countries will pressure Israel not use violence against our nonviolence.

Elsa Rassbach is a filmmaker and journalist from the United States, now based in Berlin. She is a member of CODEPINK, an organization that has endorsed the Global March to Jerusalem. She is a frequent contributor to German and U.S. publications. Her award-winning film, ”The Killing Floor,” an historical dramatic film about a union’s struggle against racism in the Chicago Stockyards, will be re-released this year.

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