IDF writing doctrine on containing border marches

Operational guide is not connected to Nakba Day riots, IDF Ground Forces Command says; military-wide seminar to be held in coming weeks.

May 17, 2011 05:17
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers watching Syria protest

IDF soldiers watching Syria protest 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)


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The IDF Ground Forces Command is in the final stages of completing a new operational doctrine for containing so-called peaceful anti-Israel marches, and in the coming weeks will hold a military-wide seminar to prepare commanders for an increase in demonstrations ahead of the Palestinians’ unilateral declaration of statehood in September.

The work on the doctrine began several months ago, and is not connected to the results of the Nakba Day riots that broke out along the Syrian border on Sunday, leading to the infiltration of some 100 Syrians into Israel.

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The work is being done by Brig.-Gen. Miki Edelstein, the IDF’s chief infantry and paratroop officer.

The decision to write a new IDF doctrine – which dictates the way commanders are supposed to counter and contain violent protests and marches – was made amid concern that Israel will face a growing number of demonstrations in the coming months, particularly following UN recognition of Palestinian statehood at the General Assembly in September.

“The whole idea in incidents like these is to know how to confront the people marching as unarmed – if they really are – and to do everything possible to prevent casualties on both sides,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.

The plan has been approved by Deputy Chief of General Staff Yair Naveh. The Ground Forces Command has received a special budget to purchase new riot control and crowd dispersion equipto forces confronting the demonstrations.

Work on the new doctrine will be completed by mid-June, and will be followed by a live exercise meant to simulate large-scale demonstrations and borderline marches to prepare soldiers for such a scenario.

“This doctrine will be relevant for mass marches with the aim of containing them,” he said.

In addition to standard riot gear like tear gas, rubber bullets and protective equipment, the IDF is also purchasing new technological systems such as the “Scream,” a device that emits penetrating bursts of sound that leave protesters dizzy and nauseous; as well as the “Skunk Bomb,” which contains a foulsmelling liquid sprayed on protesters.

Some of these devices have been used to disperse anti-security barrier demonstrations in the past in the West Bank.

According to Edelstein, a large emphasis will be placed preparing soldiers to withstand the pressure during demonstrations and not resort to violence.

“A large part of this is being prepared mentally so soldiers will know how to restrain themselves,” he said.

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