Two years ago, when OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi took up his current post and heard about the Fayyad plan for statehood he immediately got to work.
Mizrachi took the plan seriously and understood that when the Palestinians declared that they would be ready for a state in the summer of 2011, they also planned to act on it.
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For that reason, Mizrachi, one of the most veteran members of the General Staff, has the book “The Wisdom of Crowds,” written by New Yorker staffer James Surowiecki and published in 2004, on his desk these days.
The book analyzes the way crowds think, act and arrive at decisions. As the commanding officer in charge of the West Bank facing a possible Palestinian popular uprising, the book could come in handy for Mizrachi.
There is no question that the IDF has invested a great amount of
resources and time into preparing for almost every possible scenario
that could emerge from the upcoming marches expected to gain speed in
the coming weeks.
Almost all of the IDF’s regular units have undergone special riot
control training and in the West Bank, every regional brigade has
received special equipment like the “Skunk” and the “Scream.” Reservists
have received special training and emergency call-up orders have been
prepared, enabling the enlistment of a significant number of battalions
if needed, in less than 12 hours.
But with all of this preparation, there are still some scenarios that are completely out of Mizrachi and the IDF’s control.
One of them is the socalled “settler factor.”
In general, the IDF’s assessment is that the Palestinians are not
currently interested in launching a violent uprising – or an intifada –
like they did following the Camp David talks in 2000. PA security forces
are already now working to contain the demonstrations and to prevent a
But this is in the short term.
In the long-term there are a number of unknowns. First, is what will
happen weeks or even months from now when the Palestinian people realize
that President Mahmoud Abbas – who had promised them a state – did not
get one at the United Nations? Will they then hit the streets and
violently protest or will they remain restrained? Another unknown is
what will happen if tomorrow or next week or even in a month, a settler
opens fire and kills a Palestinian or another “pricetag attack” aimed at
burning down a mosque burns down a home with people sleeping inside?
This almost happened a few months ago when a Molotov cocktail was thrown
at a home in the West Bank village of Hawara where three children were
sleeping inside. Their mother grabbed them and they escaped the flames.
These are the scenarios that are most concerning for the IDF and the
Israeli government since if something like this happens, the
intelligence assessments immediately change and the Palestinians will
then, officers believe, take violently to the streets.
While the PA security forces may still try to stop them, they will not
do so with force and will instead step aside and leave the problem to
Mizrachi and his officers are aware of this problem and are working hard
on multiple levels – intelligence and operations – to prevent settlers
from even making contact with Palestinians.
This is not an easy task but it is daunting considering the possible consequences.