The Israeli army has decided to cancel leave for its soldiers stationed along the Gaza fence, spokesman for the Israeli army Avichay Adraee has said.
In a statement, a copy of which sent to MEMO, Adraee said: "The [Israeli army]'s Southern Command has completed operational preparations ahead of the so-called Land Day," noting that a state of high alert is still in place to deal with any "possible escalation".
Land Day – which marks the anniversary of the 1976 Israeli massacre of six Palestinian citizens who were protesting the state's expropriation of their land – last year became the first day of the Great March of Return. The march, which calls for an end to the 12-year-old siege on the Gaza Strip and advocates for the right to return to the land from which Palestinians were displaced in 1948, will mark its one year anniversary this weekend.
Adraee added: "The [Israeli army] leadership issued the necessary directions for Friday, including the cancelation of weekend breaks for all combat forces in the southern command."
As part of the preparations, Adraee stated that "one military squad, three brigades, and an artillery unit" have arrived at the southern military command.
"They are carrying out orders, as well as testing their readiness for different scenarios," he added, noting that this came after holding several meetings with the Chief of Staff, Aviv Kohavi, to evaluate the situation.