- The ‘March to Jerusalem’ is an attempt to generate international denigration of Israel, including by provoking a high-profile and potentially violent confrontations between demonstrators and Israeli security forces on Israel’s borders.
- The organisers are Islamists and far left activists who are opposed to Israel’s existence, the peace process and two-state solution. Many of the individual have links to violent armed groups such as Hamas.
- These demonstrations present considerable challenges to the IDF, which has invested in various means to try and repel mass attempts to breach its borders with non-lethal force.
What is the March to Jerusalem?
- A coalition of anti-Israel activist has called for a series of marches and demonstrations on 30 March 2012. Organisers have sought to galvanise activists around the world, and have particularly encouraged actions in countries bordering Israel – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Demonstrations within Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are also central to the campaign.
- There will also be demonstrations in various capitals, including one planned at the Israeli embassy in London.
- The main goal of the ‘March to Jerusalem’ is to generate international denigration of Israel. Though stating their support for non-violent means, in previous events of this kind, the clear intention of some of the protestors has been to provoke confrontation and spark violent clashes. This event follows the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident and attempts in May and June 2011 by protestors to breach Israel’s borders from Syria and Lebanon, which resulted in violence.
- The date chosen is marked every year by Arab citizens of Israel as Land Day, commemorating a 1976 general strike against the government’s land policies. In recent years, however, international groups have used this day to promote anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
Who are its organisers?
- The coalition of groups involved in the organisation of the event includes members of extreme Islamist groups linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Others are far-left activists including individuals and groups involved in the 2010 Gaza flotilla and the International Solidarity Movement. Iran is an active supporter of the movement.
- The organisers include UK based Islamist activists believed to have links to Hamas, and the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign. George Galloway is also a vocal supporter.
- The organisers of the 30 March events are opposed to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Publicity material issued by the March to Jerusalem organisers calls for the liberation of all lands seized in 1948 and supports the right of return for Palestinian refugees, which would effectively mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
What challenges do the protests present for Israel’s security forces?
- These demonstrations present considerable challenges to the IDF, which has invested in various non-lethal means to try and repel mass attempts to breach its borders. The Israel Defence Forces has been preparing by reinforcing in some areas and clarifying rules of engagement for its soldiers.
- Security preparations have drawn on the experience of the Nakba Day and Naksa Day events in May and June 2011, when protestors attempts to break Israel’s borders, as well as last September’s effort by the Palestinian Authority to secure recognition at the United Nations.
- Israel is coordinating with the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, as it has successfully done in the past, to maintain calm and limit violent clashes.
- Israeli defence officials have pointed to the potential volatility of the Israel-Lebanon border. According to reports from Lebanon, the main demonstration is planned just north of the Israeli border town of Metula, with Hezbollah heavily involved. Israel has called on the Lebanese government to prevent demonstrators from approaching the border.