Palestinians cancel marches toward Israeli borders

Associated Press
Israeli soldiers performing maintenance on the border wire fence, near the Lebanese-Israeli border village of Kfar Kila, on Friday June 3, 2011. Palestinian organizers of a march to the border with Israel planned for later this week say they have canceled the action. The cancellation comes after Lebanese authorities declared the area around the shared border with Israel a closed military zone in an attempt to prevent the border march. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

View gallery

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Palestinians in Syria canceled plans to march to the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday's anniversary of the 1967 war in which Israel captured the territory. Palestinians in Lebanon have also scrapped border rallies.

Similar protests turned deadly on May 15 when thousands of Arab protesters mobilized by calls on Facebook surged up to Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations. Those marches were to commemorate another key anniversary — of Israel's 1948 creation — and sparked clashes that killed at least 15 people.

An organizer of Sunday's protests in Syria, Khaled Abdul-Majid, gave no explanation for the cancellation but promised the march would be held at a future date.

The march in Lebanon had to be abandoned after Lebanese authorities declared the area around the border a closed military zone to prevent the demonstration. Instead, strikes were planned for all 12 of Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, organizers said Friday.

In the marches in May, hundreds of Palestinians and their supporters poured across the Syrian frontier and staged riots, drawing Israeli accusations that Damascus, and its ally Iran, orchestrated the unrest to shift attention from an uprising back home.

The borders were quiet on Saturday, but Israeli security forces were bracing for possible protests.

Lebanese and U.N. armored personnel carriers patrolled the Lebanon-Israel border and a U.N. helicopter flew overhead.

Half a dozen Israeli soldiers stopped cars driving toward Majdal Shams, the border village in the Israeli-occupied Golan that became the epicenter of last month's protests after the border breach.

Six Israeli police vans and a water cannon were parked in a lot nearby.

Village residents said Israeli tanks had been patrolling the Syrian border for the past two weeks. Since the border breach, the military has fortified the frontier with trenches and minefields.

View Comments (1)