Nakba Day - Gil Eliyahu - March 2012
Clashes on the Syrian border on Nakba Day last year. Photo by Gil Eliyahu
Text size

Israel has asked Lebanon, using intermediaries, to stop its residents from approaching the Israeli border on Friday as part of Land Day protests. The forum of eight senior cabinet ministers will consider security preparations in Israel and the West Bank when they meet today.

Protests are expected in the Gaza Strip, near the Erez border crossing, and at West Bank sites such as the Qalandiyah checkpoint, north of Jerusalem. But it is the prospect of people approaching from the Lebanese side of the border in the north that has security officials most worried.

On Nakba Day last May hundreds of people breached Israel's border with Syria. A repeat of that scenario for Land Day this year is considered unlikely because of the unrest in that country. Jordanian and Egyptian security forces will presumably patrol their respective borders and prevent infiltration from their territories into Israel.

Land Day marks the loss of Arab lands in the Galilee. On the first Land Day, in 1976, Israeli soldiers shot and killed six Arab demonstrators.

Evidence collected by Israeli authorities points to high-level Iranian involvement in planning the protests in Lebanon. A media adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Lebanon about a week ago and approached the Israeli border fence. Ahmadinejad met in Tehran recently with a large group of activists that is expected to participate in the events near the border.

The Israel Defense Forces is closely monitoring developments. Officials say an ongoing hunger strike by Palestinians in administrative detention could intensify the protests. The IDF is preparing for a scenario in which nonviolent protests spiral out of control.