The black chador-wearing women gathered on Friday close to the Fatima Gate crossing on the UN Blue Line that demarcates the border, waving Palestinian, Lebanese and Hezbollah flags.

"We are coming, Oh Jerusalem, Hezbollah is advancing toward Jerusalem," said one banner. Some demonstrators held a giant portrait of Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, with Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque - Islam's third holiest site - as a backdrop.

The Lebanese army, which deployed along the sensitive border for the first time in decades after the 33-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, prevented the crowd from heading for the crossing, while Israeli troops observed the demonstration through binoculars.

Last Friday

An initiative started by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late Iranian leader, al-Quds Day is held annually on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and calls for Jerusalem to be returned to the Palestinians.

Similar demonstrations are being held in Tehran and in the Gaza Strip, under the auspices of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. There have also been rallies in Baghdad and Iraq's second city, Basra.

Hezbollah captured two Israeli troops in July in the hope of exchanging them for hundreds of Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails.

The act triggered a devastating Israeli reaction and led to a full-scale war.

Israel's air bombing destroyed much of Lebanon's infrastructure, but Hezbollah withstood the Israeli offensive.