Israeli forces on alert for Land Day protests

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Israeli forces on alert for Land Day protests

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Israel shut crossings into the occupied West Bank on Friday ahead of pro-Palestinian rallies around the country. The annual Land Day march, organised by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, was expected to draw thousands of people.

Land Day commemorates the killing by Israeli troops of six Arabs in 1976 during protests against plans to confiscate land in the northern Galilee region.

Thousands of extra security forces were deployed at Israeli checkpoints with Lebanon, Jordan and Syria after last year’s demonstrations turned deadly.

Several people were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters.

Supporters in neighbouring countries, including Palestinian refugees, said they were – once again – planning marches close to their border with Israel.

Palestinian organisers maintained the rallies would be peaceful. Their political leaders are refusing to return to peace talks until Israel halts all Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.