Israel braced for further Palestinian protests

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Pastor Dale Morgan

May 19, 2011, 9:07:23 PM5/19/11
Perilous Times

Israel braced for further Palestinian protests

Israel is bracing for a fresh confrontation on its borders after a Facebook campaign urging Palestinian refugees to march on Jerusalem on Friday got tens of thousands of supporters.

Palestinians gather at the Rafah border between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip Photo: AFP

By Adrian Blomfield, Jerusalem 5:48PM BST 19 May 2011
The Telegraph UK

Activists urged their supporters to mass on all of Israel's frontiers at the end of noon prayers as they seek to force the issue of Palestinian refugees back onto the world agenda.

Launched last Sunday, the campaign began with bloodshed as 14 refugees and their supporters were shot dead as they attempted to force their way through Israeli border fences from Lebanon and Syria.

In anticipation of a second attempt to storm the borders, Israeli troops laid new barbed-wire along its side of a fence marking the ceasefire line between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights, seized by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967.

Soldiers were also seen working with mine detectors. In recent days, the military has reportedly been considering laying down additional mines along the "Alpha Line" after some 130 protesters managed to cut through the fence last Sunday.

One Palestinian infiltrator was even able to reach his old family home in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, before turning himself into Israeli police, saying he had fulfilled a lifelong ambition.

More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in a war that erupted as Israel was being created in 1948. Millions more have been born into the world's oldest refugee camps.

Sunday's infiltration has caused some fears in the Israeli establishment that a long-feared "doomsday scenario", under which Israel faces an invasion not from Arab armies but from unarmed refugees, may be unfolding.

A mass show of force by the refugees, who have been inspired by popular revolts elsewhere to begin a Palestinian "Arab Spring" is unlikely on Friday.

Some activists have urged their supporters to wait until either next month, or even until September when Palestinian leaders seek UN recognition of statehood, before launching protests in earnest.

Under Israeli pressure, Facebook removed a website calling for a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, after it drew more than 300,000 supporters.

The growing tension comes as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, arrives in Washington on a high-profile visit that will see him make an address to Congress next week in which he is expected to unveil a new plan to relaunch stalled negotiations with the Palestinian leadership.

He is expected to meet President Barack Obama on Friday.

The two men have had strained relations in the past but, to Arab anger and despite lack of progress on the Middle East peace process, ties have improved.

This week, the White House defended Israel's response to Sunday's border incursions.

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