Nakba Day protesters on Lebanon border 311 (R).
(photo credit: Sharif Karim / Reuters)
The IDF is gearing up for “Nakba Day” protests expected next month and has sent
snipers for special training to sharpen their skills ahead of planned
demonstrations along Israel’s borders.
A few weeks ago, the IDF and the
Israel Police went on high alert to prevent the Global March to
Jerusalem. The day passed quietly, though, without any major
demonstrations on either of Israel’s northern borders with Lebanon and
However, the IDF is concerned that it will face on May 15 a repeat
of last year’s Nakba Day when about 100 protesters succeeded in crossing into
the state from Syria.
A number of protesters were reported killed then by
the IDF along the borders with Lebanon and Syria. Nakba Day – or the “day of
catastrophe” – is the day the Palestinians commemorate the establishment of the
State of Israel.
Ahead of the planned demonstrations, the IDF recently
completed the erection of a new fence along the Syrian border as well as the
creation of new minefields aimed at preventing infiltrations. In
addition, the IDF has been training its sniper units to target protesters’ legs
in a nonfatal way.
“Nakba Day will be another test and we will be
prepared,” a senior officer said.
While the Global March to Jerusalem
passed quietly, the IDF is concerned that the Syrian leadership will purposely
dispatch protesters to the border as part of an effort to divert attention away
from President Bashar Assad’s violent crackdown on the Syrian people.
recent weeks, Israel has passed on messages to UNIFIL in Lebanon warning that
the IDF will use force to prevent an infiltration of its border. Last
year, the Lebanese Armed Forces were heavily deployed along the border and
actively prevented demonstrators from approaching the border.
In the West
Bank, the IDF and the civil administration are coordinating with Palestinian
Authority security forces to enable Palestinians to protest in a way that will
not lead to an escalation in violence. Expected hotspots will once again include
the Kalandiya crossing between Jerusalem and Ramallah.