Israel beefs up security for 'Land Day'

AFP , Friday 29 Mar 2013

Police spokesman says 'thousands of police reinforcements' have been deployed in Jerusalem, limiting Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa mosque

Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiyeh (Photo: AP)

Israel deployed significant security reinforcements on Friday in the occupied West Bank including east Jerusalem for demonstrations commemorating the deaths in 1976 of Arab Israelis on "Land Day".

"Thousands of police reinforcements have been deployed in Jerusalem including in the Old City to prevent disorder," a police spokeswoman told AFP.

The measures were introduced "following information that groups of Palestinians were ready to engage in violent demonstrations" during the Land Day commemorations.

Land Day is held every year to mark the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

On Friday morning, access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound was limited to Palestinians over the age of 50 and holders of Jerusalem residency cards issued by Israel. There were no restrictions placed on women, however.

The police spokeswoman said that security had also been strengthened at the main checkpoints between annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

An officer told army radio that the military also deployed reinforcements to the West Bank.

"Very often the mere presence of these forces acts as a deterrent and, in case of violent demonstrations, the security forces who have taken up positions in the field have an advantage over troublemakers," he said.

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