- (Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
A massive march to the city of Jerusalem is planned for this Friday with communities from around the world calling for "freedom for Palestine and its capital Jerusalem" in an event that has attracted the support of Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as well as the nation of Iran.
The event, called "Global March to Jerusalem," is being orchestrated by the International Central Committee, a group comprised of 42 delegates representing five continents.
The delegates seek to have one million people march in solidarity along the borders of Israel in surrounding Middle Eastern countries in an attempt to come "to the nearest point possible" to the ancient and historically significant city.
Marches are also being organized on public squares in capital cities, as well as in front of Israeli embassies, throughout the world and are planned to take place by groups from countries as far away from the borders of Jerusalem as Germany, Switzerland, and Canada.
"The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) is a groundbreaking new initiative that is organizing non-violent civil resistance on 30 March 2010 in Palestine and the four neighboring countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria," the event website reads.
The march will take place this Friday, March 30 on a symbolically important date for Palestinians – who celebrate March 30 as "Land Day," a day when six Arab Israelis were killed in protests against the expropriation of land in 1976.
"The peaceful marchers will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people. Our aim is to end Zionist policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation, which harm all people, land, and the sanctity of Jerusalem," the website added.
Despite its list of supporters, Israel's Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported earlier in the week that Iran has been the driving force behind the new initiative, claiming that Iran's goal is to exploit "the sensitivity of the Arab-Muslim world to the issue of Jerusalem, to draw international attention away from itself."
Iran has openly and publicly supported the event with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei saying the march would strengthen "resistance operations" against Israel and that Iran would be sending tens of thousands of people to Jerusalem for Friday's march.
Last June, Arab groups organized marches along Israel's border for "Naqba Day." Naqba is a term in Arabic meaning "the catastrophe" or "the disaster" and is used by Palestinians to describe what activists describe as the loss of Palestine to Israel.
Last year's marches along Israel's borders saw violence that left 13 people dead and many have expressed concerns that with thousands of people attempting to illegally cross into Israel's borders in protest this Friday, that the "Global March to Jerusalem" demonstrations could turn deadly.
Despite the concerns, Israeli officials have said that they are ready for the day of protest and will use lessons from last year's border demonstrations to quell violence.
"We've been through this before," an anonymous Israeli security source told The Jerusalem Post.
Officials have made several additional security precautions for the planned event along Israeli's borders in hopes of keeping the protests non-violent and will deploy added security personnel in case of emergency.