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Israeli troops step up security along border
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09:27, February 25, 2008

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has stepped up security along borders with the Gaza Strip ahead of a scheduled Gaza demonstration on Monday, local daily Ha'aretz reported on Sunday.

The Israeli police will also heighten security across the country on Monday as some 40,000 Palestinians are expected to march along the Gaza Strip's border in protest of Israel's economic embargo on the coastal enclave, Ha'aretz said.

In addition, a large number of police forces will be deployed to join the IDF in the southern district in case the protest gets out of control, the report added.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a joint statement that Israel will defend its territory and foil any infiltration attempt into its sovereign borders.

They also warned that Hamas would be responsible for any harm to Palestinian civilians in the planned march. "Hamas is directly responsible for activity which puts civilian population in jeopardy."

The Palestinian Popular Committee against Siege called on Gaza Strip residents to organize a large demonstration on Monday against an 8-month Israeli siege.

The committee, headed by Jamal al-Khodari, an independent lawmaker supported by Hamas, had started a series of peaceful activities on Saturday to urge the world to exert pressure on Israel to end the siege on the coastal enclave.

Al-Khodari said the activities are meant to tell the world that "we are living under an unfair and tough siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip for more than eight months."

Israel has closed the poor enclave off from all but vital humanitarian supplies since Hamas took control of Gaza last June in a bid to halt makeshift rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israeli communities.

Source: Xinhua

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