10,000 police brace for expected 'Nakba Day' protests

By MELANIE LIDMAN, AND
May 15, 2011 08:24

Demonstrators throw stones near Issawiya, no injuries; police chief Danino says "only peaceful demonstrations" will be allowed.

4 minute read.



Palestinians burning a flag during Silwan clashes

Palestinians burning a flag during Silwan clashes GALLERY. (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Nearly 10,000 border police officers were expected to be stationed throughout the country Sunday in cities with Arab and Jewish populations and areas where conflict is expected in light of 'Nakba Day'.

Police were asked to show restraint and not release live fire, unless there existed a real threat to human life.

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Increased security in east Jerusalem and surrounding areas was expected to continue for the next few days.

Demonstrators on Sunday morning threw stones at Border Police forces near a gas station in Issawyia as part of the 'Nakba Day' protests.

The forces, with the aid of a helicopter, managed to disperse the stone-throwers who fled into the village. There were no reports of injuries in the incident.

Tensions rose in east Jerusalem this weekend following the shooting death of a Palestinian youth during a riot in the capital’s Silwan neighborhood.

At police headquarters in Jerusalem on Saturday evening, Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino spoke with intelligence officials and commanders from the Border Police, the Operations Branch and the Jerusalem district, and drew up final plans for Sunday.

“We will allow for demonstrations and we will act with restraint. But we will not allow violent disturbances,” Danino said.

Jerusalem police and Border Police units remain deployed in force in east Jerusalem, and are on standby in case of further rioting, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Officers are also deployed in larger than normal numbers in the North, including near Umm el-Fahm and in the surrounding Wadi Ara region.

Crossings with Judea and Samaria would be temporarily closed to Palestinians on Sunday, the IDF announced on Saturday night. The closure began on Saturday at 11:59 p.m. and will be lifted on Sunday at the same time.

Persons in need of medical attention, humanitarian aid or exceptional assistance will be permitted to pass for care, with the authorization of the civil administration.

Meanwhile, the police opened an investigation into Friday’s shooting in Silwan, which occurred during clashes with masked Arab youths hurling rocks.

Milad Ayish, 17, from the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, was taken to Al-Makassed Hospital on the Mount of Olives on Friday with a bullet wound to his stomach, and died early on Saturday.

Police asked for permission to carry out an autopsy to determine where he was wounded and the caliber of the bullet, which would shed light on where the shot was fired from and what type of weapon was used, but the request was denied, Rosenfeld said.

The teenager’s father claimed the bullet was fired from the direction of Jewish homes in Silwan, which are protected by armed private security guards.

“This was deliberate murder!” Sa’id Ayish, Milad’s father, told the Hebrew media from the family’s mourning tent on Saturday. “Martyr posters” of Milad, who was set to graduate from high school in a few weeks, were put up around east Jerusalem.

It was too soon to draw any conclusions, police said. “It’s not clear what the injuries were, and how he sustained them. An investigation is under way,” Rosenfeld said.

On Friday, clashes were reported in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Isawiya, Ras al-Amud, Silwan and the Shuafat refugee camp.

Hundreds of Arabs burned flags, threw stones and used slingshots and homemade explosives against police.

Four border policemen were lightly wounded, with one requiring hospitalization, while Palestinians said 11 youths were lightly injured.

Thirty-four people were arrested on Friday for rioting and planning to throw gasoline bombs.

On Saturday, thousands of Palestinians took part in a funeral procession for Ayish, marching with the coffin from Ras al-Amud to Silwan.

Dozens of youths threw rocks at security personnel and at Jewish homes in Silwan during the procession. Police dispersed the stone-throwers and arrested six suspected rioters.

In the West Bank, demonstrations were held in various cities over the weekend, but there was no extreme violence. Near Ramallah, for example, soldiers dispersed several dozen Palestinians and left-wing activists who were stoning IDF positions.

“It was no different than the regular Friday demonstrations,” one IDF officer said.

The Central Command will stay on high alert throughout Sunday, the actual ‘Nakba Day,’ in anticipation of larger demonstrations.

Palestinians in Jordan and Lebanon are also expected to protest along the borders with Israel.

The IDF significantly boosted troop levels in the West Bank ahead of ‘Nakba Day’ and commanders prepared their men for a wide range of scenarios, from low-level protests to attempts to damage the security barrier.

There are also concerns that terrorists will try to carry out attacks in the West Bank on Sunday on the sidelines of the demonstrations.

Following Saturday afternoon’s meeting of police commanders, Rosenfeld said, “We’re allowing the scheduled marches and gatherings to take place both in Jerusalem as well as in the North. At the same time, if there are any disturbances, there are large numbers of officers from different police units who are ready and capable and will respond immediately.”

JPost.com staff contributed to this report.


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