Police brace for violent clashes ahead of PA UN bid

As Abbas readies to make UN speech, roughly 22,000 officers mobilized; force on Special Alert Level 3C – one alert level before the highest.

September 23, 2011 10:05
1 minute read.
Palestinians in front of symbolic chair, Ramallah

Palestinians in front of a symbolic chair in Ramallah 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

The Israel Police on Friday morning was bracing for the possibility of violent clashes ahead of the speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations.

Roughly 22,000 officers have been mobilized by the police’s Operations Branch, which has placed the force on Special Alert Level 3C – one alert level before the highest.

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“We will have special preparations on the Temple Mount and around Jerusalem for Friday prayers. And then we will go on special alert again for 7 p.m., when Abbas is expected to speak,” a source from the Operations Branch told The Jerusalem Post.

“Since these are two waves of preparations, we needed to mobilize this number of officers,” the source said. “This does not mean we are in a problematic situation, but we are on a high state of alert.”

All leave for regular police officers has already been canceled for the month of September.

The heightened alert will last until Saturday morning.

Extra police will also be present around the security barrier, checkpoints leading to the West Bank, and mixed Arab- Jewish cities around Israel.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino will hold an evaluation meeting on Friday morning, and then tour Jerusalem’s Old City and near its security barrier.

This week, police held a major drill to test riot-response capabilities ahead of the planned Palestinian statehood recognition bid at the UN.

The number of specially trained riot police has gone up by around 50 percent over the past couple of years, from 5,000 to 7,400, with an additional 1,500 officers on standby.

The riot officers are assigned to 16 command-and-control centers across the country.

Additionally, 200,000 liters of “Skunk” liquid, which produces a foul smell and has been proven as an effective, yet harmless, crowd dispersal means, are available.

Police also have 16 Venom type long-range multiple gas canister launchers, and speaker systems that emit unbearable sounds.

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