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Haniyeh: No alternative to land of Palestine

March 29, 2013 5:08 P.M. (Updated: March 31, 2013 4:02 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinians must reject the idea of settling in any land other than Palestine, Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday on the eve of Land Day.

"We reject resettlement in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, or the Sinai," Haniyeh told crowds during a speech in Gaza on Friday. "There is no alternative to the land of Palestine."

Palestinians face ongoing political, economic, military and media campaigns to give up their land, the premier said, adding that US President Barack Obama's recent visit confirmed the country's bias toward Israel.

Haniyeh stressed that Hamas is eager to implement a reconciliation deal with secular rivals Fatah.

Land Day is held every year to mark the deaths of six Palestinian protesters at the hands of Israeli police and troops during mass demonstrations in 1976 against plans to confiscate Arab land in Galilee.

Israel deployed significant reinforcements Friday in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem for in preparation for annual demonstrations.

"Thousands of police reinforcements have been deployed in Jerusalem including in the Old City to prevent disorder," an Israeli police spokeswoman told AFP.

On Friday morning, access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound was limited to Palestinians over the age of 50 and holders of Jerusalem residency cards issued by Israel. There were no restrictions placed on women, however.

The police spokeswoman said that security had also been strengthened at the main checkpoints between annexed Palestinian east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured in demonstrations last year as Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters across the occupied West Bank.
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