Naharnet

Thousands of Demonstrators Mark Land Day in Jordan, Hundreds Rally in Syria

More than 15,000 people in Jordan, including opposition Islamists and trade unionists, held a peaceful sit-in near the border with Israel on Friday to mark Land Day.

Waving Jordanian and Palestinian flags, the demonstrators carried banners reading: "Freedom for Jerusalem and freedom for Palestine," and "Jerusalem, here we come," as they gathered in Kafrein, some 10 kilometers (six miles) from the border crossing and barely a kilometer and a half (a mile) from the frontier.

"We will not forget you Jerusalem. Down with the Wadi Araba agreement," they chanted, referring to the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

"The Israelis have stolen Palestine. We will return to the Holy Land and restore our rights. We will not forget their crimes," Hammam Said, leader of Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood, told the demonstrators.

Land Day commemorates the deaths of six Arab Israeli protesters at the hands of Israeli forces during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in northern Israel.

"Jerusalem is still the key to war and peace. Peace will not prevail unless Jerusalem is liberated," said former prime minister and intelligence chief Ahmad Obeidat, who heads the National Reform Front.

A police spokesman told Agence France Presse: "Security presence normal," adding: "It's a peaceful sit-in and everything is under control."

Among the demonstrators, who included women and children, were four rabbis from the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta.

"We are here to mark Land Day, and tell the world not to blame Jewish people for the crimes of Zionism," Rabbi Ahron Cohen told AFP.

"Judaism and Zionism are two different concepts."

Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrians chanting slogans in favor of President Bashar al-Assad demonstrated in Damascus on Friday to mark Land Day, an Agence France Presse reporter said.

During what was billed as a "World March for Jerusalem" held under the banner "Millions of Syrians want Palestine back," they chanted: "We will return to Palestine: We promise all the dead and Arab martyrs we will arrive in Jerusalem."

The protesters waved Syrian flags and also those of Damascus allies Russia and China, as well as the flag of Lebanon's Hizbullah, chanting: "Lions of Syria, lions of the resistance."

The gathering was held in the city's central Sbaat Bahrat square, often the venue for demonstrations backing the regime, whose crackdown on a year of protests the U.N. estimates has killed more than 9,000 people.

Source: Agence France Presse


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