Lebanon News

Israel boosts border security over protest fears

SIDON: Israel boosted security on its border with Lebanon Friday amid fears that protesters could repeat demonstrations that saw hundreds of Palestinians march toward a security fence on Nakba Day.

Israeli forces opened fire on Arab activists who marched toward Israel's borders with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza Sunday in an unprecedented wave of protests, killing at least 15 people, including 11 in Lebanon.

Witnesses in south Lebanon said Israeli troops were conducting patrols along the border with Lebanon since the morning hours Friday.

They said Lebanese troops and U.N. peacekeepers ran parallel patrols along the border.

Israel also beefed up security in the Golan Heights Friday, sending troops and police to the northern region and denying access to non-residents, the Israeli military and an AFP photographer said.

The Israeli military deployed additional troops, setting up temporary checkpoints to restrict access to the area amid concerns that protesters could breach a security fence and enter from Syria as they did on Nakba Day last weekend.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that additional security measures had been taken on Friday, traditionally a day of protest in the Muslim world.

"The border fence is a military zone, the approaching of which is forbidden and potentially dangerous," the spokeswoman told AFP.

"The decision to declare a closed military zone in the Golan Heights is made according to real-time situation assessments and will be reconsidered as the situation progresses.

"There's a checkpoint so that people won't cross into the closed military zone, it's a temporary checkpoint that's just for today," she said.

An AFP photographer in Majdal Shams, the Golan Heights, said the situation was quiet at midday, with no sign of protesters gathering on either side of the ceasefire line.

The Israeli military Thursday said it planned to close the Erez border crossing with Gaza early Friday "due to expectations of violent demonstrations in the Gaza Strip in the direction of Erez crossing."

But a spokesman for the crossing told AFP Friday that the decision was rescinded and the crossing would close at its regular time.

Activists in both Lebanon and Jordan told AFP that there were no plans Friday to repeat the Nakba Day demonstrations, though several activist groups on Facebook have called for protests in the West Bank and Gaza.

In the Gaza Strip, activists planned protests in Beit Hanun in the north and near Khan Yunis in the center.





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