IDF fears schoolchildren to lead protests after UN vote

“We do not know what to expect but are preparing for all possible scenarios,” defense official says as Palestinians move forward with statehood bid.

September 11, 2011 03:51
1 minute read.
Palestinian boys holding symbolic keys in Ramallah

Palestinian boys holding symbolic keys in Ramallah 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)


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Concern is growing in the IDF that the Palestinian Authority will dismiss schoolchildren to participate in anti-Israel demonstrations following its unilateral declaration of statehood at the United Nations later this month.

The Palestinians are expected to submit the bid to the UN Security Council on September 20.

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have told Israeli officials that they will work to prevent the protests from turning violent, but that they will support the Palestinian people’s right to demonstrate against Israel’s refusal to recognize their statehood bid.

However, the IDF is preparing for a wide-range of scenarios, including a possible outbreak of violence as well as non-violent marches throughout the West Bank.

Israel will also be on high alert along its northern borders with Syria and Lebanon, as well as the border with the Gaza Strip.

“We do not know what to expect but are preparing for all possible scenarios,” a senior defense official said.

“Unlike the average Palestinian, schoolchildren are a captive audience that can easily be ordered to a demonstration and told to protest.”

One scenario under review is that all of the schools in Ramallah will be released for one day to participate in a protest in the center of the city or at the Kalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem, one of the regular hot spots between the IDF and Palestinians.

Alongside preparations for clashes with Palestinian demonstrators, the IDF is also concerned about the possibility that settler violence will escalate in the West Bank. In recent weeks, there have been a number of so-called “price tag” attacks attributed to right-wing extremists against Palestinian mosques.

“We will not tolerate this type of violence and will act to prevent it since ‘price tag’ attacks could lead to a larger escalation in the West Bank,” a senior IDF officer said.

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