Global March to Jerusalem: Iranian “Invasion”

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(Ed. Note: As some times happens, events overtake the publishing cycle, and the March to Jerusalem is now underway. We publish this piece as is, because we believe it contains useful information regardless. Updates will be provided below, as time and circumstances permit, in chronological order.)

The International Global March to Jerusalem (GM2J) appears, at first glance, to be the usual collection of Palestinian activists and leftist useful idiots who typically gather on supposedly “symbolic days” (This Friday is “Land Day” which commemorates an Arab protest in 1976), in order to conduct so-called “humanitarian” missions or formal protests to publicly excoriate the Jewish State, if on a very large scale, featuring demonstrations on the Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese borders and within the disputed territories and Gaza.

But as we learned from the Mavi Marmara incident, beneath the surface of such protests frequently lays the hard-edge of jihad. In the case of the Flotilla, it was the Turkish group IHH, with backing of the ruling Turkish AKP party, which sprang a trap which injured Israeli soldiers, and undermined Israel’s public relations campaign.

The Global March to Jerusalem is another ambush in waiting, although it’s an Iranian hand guiding the attempt.

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center, Iran is heavily invested in supporting the GM2J movement, using its propaganda outlets as well as supporting the movement through various proxies. An Iranian, Hossein Shaikhol-Eslam, senior advisor to the parliament speaker for international affairs of Iran, sits on the global coordinating board for the GM2J, as well as being head of the Iranian GM2J board established by the Iranian government. Other Iranian members on the global board include Seyed Saleem Ghafuri, the head of the executive board of the GM2J.

Internet Haganah, a internet forum maintained by American computer professionals who track Jihadist activity online, reported that the Global March website was hosted and maintained by an organization known as AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM), a Shiite missionary organization in Britain, suspected of being an Iranian front organization. Internet Haganah postulated that the organization volunteered the use of their webspace during a GM2J planning session conducted in Beirut attended by Salim Ghafouri, and another Iranian Roohulla Rezvi. Roohulla Rezvi appears to maintain ties both with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Other Muslim Brotherhood activists are also tied to the GM2J at the International Advisory Committee level, according to the website CIFWatch. The British blog cites M.B. members involved in organizing GM2J as including

Maan Bashour who heads a Muslim Brotherhood organization in Lebanon, Mohammed Kassem Sawalha, with ties to the M.B. and the IHH responsible for the Flotilla incident. Saud Abu Mahfouz, is from the Islamic Action Front, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s political party.

Other activists maintain ties to the IHH, Jaamat Islami, a Pakistani organization with M.B. links, and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a leftist pro-Palestinian organization which maintains close ties with Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Iranian terror proxies Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas are also expected to take part, with their members participating in coordination meetings which took place in Beirut. The Israeli open sources intelligence website, DEBKA reported that Iranian Al Quds forces have been training demonstrators in tactics to breach the Israeli border, and arranged for “thousands” of demonstrators to take part along the Syrian border.

Indeed, the Global March to Jerusalem is evidently so infested with terror ties that the North American expedition GM2J-NA, established itself as a separate organization, and specifically notes on its websites that it did so to avoid legal repercussions.  Even Palestinian organizers are attempting to provide themselves with some degree of separation from the events to come, reporting to Haaretz and Al Arabiya that they expected violence on the Syrian and Lebanese borders because of Iranian involvement.

For their part, Israel remains publicly confident that it can handle this latest challenge to its sovereignty and security, by bolstering their border security and providing extra training in non-lethal crowd control, comparing it to previous attempts to breach the border which Israel has repulse. Given the cast of characters assembled however the probability of lethal violence from the GM2J side is high, and Israel must be prepared also to win the resulting public relations battle. So far they have downplayed the event publicly, with one Israeli government official suggesting that probably not many protestors would actually show up, “It’s going to be between 12 and a half and 100,000 — probably closer to 12 and a half.”

While there’s some advantage to attempting to depress turnout by proclaiming a lack of excitement (a common preemptive P.R. tactic), Israel would do well to publicly and repeatedly highlight the Iranian role, and the role of terrorists and extremist organizations involved in the event. This way, Israel has prepared the media for the possibility of violence, rather than scrambling to explain the terrorist ties of organizers after the event, as took place following the assault on Israeli naval commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara.

On a more global scale, the international community has allowed for an atmosphere which fosters this kind of violence, by pretending that the issue of Jerusalem is still open for negotiations and discussion. It results in the kind of embarrassing word play associated with discussing Jerusalem, evidenced in a State Department press briefing this week, where the State Department spokesperson was forced to jump through a series of verbal hurdles to avoid answering the question, “What does the U.S. consider to be the capital of Israel?”

This creates the impression that Jerusalem is a prize yet to be won, rather than recognizing the simple fact that it is, and will remain the Israeli capital, and that no negotiations can be expected to change that. The American people understand this fact, the American congress understands it, but the refusal of the State Department to recognize such a basic reality leaves room for exploitation by entities like the GM2J.  Thereby we leave Israel exposed to attacks and delegitimization, resulting in events like the upcoming Iranian “invasion”.

Update #1: Jerusalem Post reports of some clashes breaking out near Kalandiya with protestors throwing rocks and molotov cocktails. Several protestors “lightly injured” in Ramallah, according to Israel Radio.

Update #2: The United reported an hour ago, of the security forces in Jordan are holding back protestors from approaching the border, and Iranian flags have been spotted in Lebanon.

Update #3: The IDF has published a video of Palestinians throwing rocks and fire bombs at an border watchtower in Bethlehem.  Israel Hayom reports that Lebanese security forces intend to keep protestors North of the Litani river, outside of the UNFIL operating area. However they report Lebanese media as indicating that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were operating in the area, and expected to incite violence.

Update #4: Al Jazeera English reports (citing the AFP) that 15,000 protestors were conducting a “Sit-In” on the Jordanian border with Israel, consisting of Islamists and trade union members.  Israel National News cites Jordanian press putting the number at 20,000. One thing to keep an eye on, will be whether protestors attempt to establish “camps” along the border, in “Tahrir” protest fashion. This is expressly described as part of the plan in the Beirut GM2J planning meeting, according to the notes made available by Internet Haganah:

Thus let us not assume that we will be stopped, but we are prepared for contingency plans if we are. Also we need to plan & coordinate the mobilizations across all the four borders & each of the four countries will require a different plan due to the different & contrasting political realities in each of them. Thus each of the teams in these countries will have to prepare a feasibility study & submit the same within the next 2 weeks.

Thus we will proceed till we are asked to halt & our endeavour will always be to get as close to the borders & after that we will set up Camps, like little Tahrir’s to demand our right to go to occupied Jerusalem.

The number of days that we will continue to protest peacefully will be determined later & as per the existing political situation.

Update #5: While some media is reporting that PA parliament member Moustafa Barghouti was injured when struck by a tear gas canister, the IDF says that Barghouti was injured in a brawl between Palestinians over who would lead the protest.

Update #6: YNet News reports that Hamas forces violently disrupted protests using clubs, and one Palestinian protestor was killed in Gaza.

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About the Author

Kyle Shideler
Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research and Communications for the Endowment for Middle East Truth

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