Police across the country were bracing for large demonstrations and possible riots on Sunday, when Israeli Arabs and Palestinians mark ‘Nakba Day.’

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


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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.”

Several peaceful pre-‘Nakba Day’ marches took place across the country on Saturday, including one in the capital’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which left Damascus Gate with more than 200 demonstrators.

Police accompanied the march and there were no incidents.

“[Saturday’s] gatherings were quiet, and we’re hoping tomorrow is also quiet, but obviously the last 48 hours have a direct influence on what will happen tomorrow,” Rosenfeld said.

Late on Saturday, five policemen were lightly injured in rock-throwing incidents at the checkpoint to the Shuafat refugee camp and at Sur Bahir. Four were treated on-site while one was taken to the hospital.

Nineteen people were arrested across east Jerusalem on Saturday for disturbing the peace and throwing rocks.

The security services have been instructed to do everything to avoid violence during the ‘Nakba Day’ demonstrations, an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post.

“We hope there will not be provocations from the other side,” the official said.

Israel is a democracy and people have the right to demonstrate, “but if the demonstrations turn violent, we will have to respond,” the official said.

Still, the official added, the demonstrations are problematic, because the participants are demonstrating against Israel’s right to exist.

It’s an extremist message that ignores the fact that Israel accepted a two-state solution in 1948, but the Arab leadership refused it, the official said.

Fatah revolutionary council member Dimitri Dilani said that the revolutions of the “Arab Spring,” as well as the possibility of a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood in September, were contributing to the intensity of the protests.

“People are more in contact now with the political side of things, [like they were] during first years of negotiations, when people had an idea where leadership was taking us politically,” Dilani told the Post on Saturday night.

“Now we have a political goal, and with a political goal, we know what needs to happen on the ground without us getting pushed off the track,” he said.

Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika called on Israelis to protest ‘Nakba Day’ by flying national flags on their cars and homes as well as by posting photographs of Israeli scenes on Facebook.

Activists plan to stand at major intersections throughout the country to hand out flags.

“This Sunday, we will all raise with pride the flag of Israel,” Mesika said in a message he sent to Samaria residents.

“‘Nakba Day’ is translated into Hebrew as Yom Hashoah. This is how the ‘Palestinian’ Authority leadership has chosen to refer to the establishment of Israel,” he wrote.

He added that this was not surprising, given that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was a holocaust-denier.

“This year, the authority is trying to intensify the events of that day, as a propaganda step on the way to their one-sided declaration of a state in September. The hysteria that the PA and its PR people from the far left are trying to inflict on the citizens of Israel is nothing but a balloon filled with hot air,” he said.


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