The IDF is raising its level of alert ahead of Friday morning prayers in Jerusalem and out of fear that violence there will spread to Palestinian cities in the West Bank, defense officials said Thursday.
The fears in the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are that the violence in Jerusalem will spread to the West Bank and develop into large demonstrations, increased stoning on roads used by settlers and possibly even shooting attacks against IDF positions and patrols.
The Shin Bet has already noted a slight increase in terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem in September, during which there were a total of 50 attacks, including two shootings and 45 Molotov cocktails. In contrast, in August there were only about 30 attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The "real test," defense officials said, would be Friday morning prayers at the Temple Mount. If the prayers passed quietly, there might be a chance that the violence would die out, defense officials said.
"We are closely following the events and understand that many wounded or several dead Palestinians could trigger additional violence in the West Bank," one official said. So far the special undercover Border Police units have been doing an effective job in quelling the violence in east Jerusalem, he added.
In addition, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that the IDF recently arrested several Palestinian policemen who were operating illegally in east Jerusalem. The policemen were in plain clothes, but were part of a force that the Palestinian Authority was trying to establish in the city as part of its efforts to create a presence in what it believes will be the capital of its future state, the defense officials said.