Palestinian rally 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF was set to go on high alert on Friday throughout the West Bank amid
concern that the so-called September demonstrations will begin ahead of the
Palestinian Authority’s planned unilateral declaration of statehood at the
United Nations next week.
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IDF sources said that demonstrations were
expected to erupt already this weekend at the Kalandiya checkpoint north of
Jerusalem and in Hebron. Other potential hotspots are near the settlement of
Karmei Tzur in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, near Rachel’s Tomb on the
northern edge of Bethlehem and near the Palestinian town of Kaddum, between
Kalkilya and Nablus.
Earlier this week, the IDF completed the deployment
of several additional infantry battalions to the West Bank that have undergone
special antiriot training ahead of the expected demonstrations. In addition,
units were also deployed in the South near the border with the Gaza Strip and in
the North to prevent border infiltrations from Syria and Lebanon.
the six regional brigades in the Central Command have received two “skunks” –
trucks with cannons that spray a foul-smelling liquid on rioters – and a number
of “screams,” a device that emits penetrating bursts of sound that leave rioters
dizzy and nauseated. These are in addition to standard riot gear such as rubber
bullets, tear gas and protective equipment.
IDF assessments are that the
Palestinian will work – at least in the beginning – to prevent the
demonstrations from turning violent. Large demonstrations are scheduled to take
place on Wednesday in several large Palestinian cities such as Ramallah, Jenin
Defense officials said on Thursday though that Palestinian
officials have passed on messages to Israel that if settler attacks against
Palestinians – which have been on the rise in recent weeks – continue, they
would not be able to restrain the public.
“Our two major concerns are
that the demonstrations will turn violent or that the so-called ‘price tag’
attacks against Palestinians will escalate and ignite the territories,” one
The army has held a number of large exercises in recent
weeks aimed at preparing IDF units for how to contain the demonstrations without
“Casualties can lead to additional unrest and more
demonstrations,” an IDF source explained. “The way to deal with these
demonstrations is to know how to contain them and to prevent casualties at the
Terrorist groups are not expected to dramatically increase
efforts to attack Israel over the coming weeks, but the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency) has voiced concern that if the demonstrations turn violent,
Hamas and Islamic Jihad might join the fray.