police inspector general David Cohen 311.
(photo credit: Israel Police.)
Large demonstrations and socalled peaceful marches towards the Gaza Strip
security barrier and IDF checkpoints in the West Bank are some of the scenarios
the defense establishment is preparing for amid predictions that massive civil
disturbances will break out in the Palestinian territories on May
Several Palestinian groups have called for large demonstrations along
Israel’s various borders in mid-May ahead of Nakba Day – “the day of the
catastrophe” – which is the Palestinian commemoration of the establishment of
the State of Israel in 1948.
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A senior IDF officer said that the Southern
Command was finalizing operational plans for the possibility that thousands of
Gazans would march towards the border fence with Israel.
include massive demonstrations in the West Bank and simultaneous marches from
several Palestinian cities towards nearby settlements or even
“We are preparing for a large number of scenarios,” the
officer said. “The Palestinians feel that they have legitimacy for these
peaceful demonstrations, especially now following the creation of a new
[Fatah-Hamas unity] government and ahead of the declaration of
The demonstrations, if launched, would come just days before
a massive protest flotilla sets out for the Gaza Strip. The Foreign Ministry is
working to convince the international community to stop the flotilla, and the
navy is preparing operational plans to stop it.
The IDF has begun
establishing rapid response teams and is identifying vantage points throughout
the West Bank that could be used to contain Palestinian
The concern is that in the event of several large
simultaneous demonstrations, the IDF would not know how to contain the protests,
leading to a high number of casualties. As a result, commanders have been
instructed to prepare their soldiers mentally for how to respond to such
In related news, the IDF is continuing to cooperate with
Palestinian Authority security services, despite the murder of Ben-Yosef Livnat
in Nablus on Sunday and the announcement of a Fatah- Hamas reconciliation
agreement on Wednesday.
A source added that there was no immediate
concern about sudden changes that would disrupt the close security cooperation
currently in place between the IDF and PA security forces.
The two sides
have built a good working relationship and have worked to combat Hamas activity
in the West Bank.
On Thursday, OC Judea and Samaria Division
Nitzan Alon met with his Palestinian counterparts and received
an update on their investigation into the Livnat murder. IDF sources said that
the PA had tapped its “military” intelligence apparatus to lead the
Former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora
Eiland said Israel would have to wait to see if the unity agreement was a mere
declaration or would become something practical.
“At the moment, this is
an agreement on paper. If Hamas members join Palestinian Authority security
forces in the West Bank, that will mark the end of PA-Israel security
cooperation in the West Bank,” Eiland said.
“That can be said
unequivocally. At the same time, there’s not a big chance that this will
happen. Nor do I expect PA members to join Hamas forces in Gaza,” he
Eiland, who formerly headed the IDF’s Planning Branch, described
the unity agreement as a convenient political maneuver that was of use to Fatah
and Hamas, but expressed doubt that it had much substance. “I’d even describe
this maneuver as being cynical,” he said.
In 2007, Hamas and Fatah broke
off relations after Hamas gunmen staged a coup in the Gaza Strip, in which some
Fatah security men were thrown off rooftops and others were executed with