"If this catches momentum, we'll have to demonstrate that we are a country of laws," defense source says.
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Settler activists instigated a handful of incidents and clashes with security forces Monday to send the message to the state that future evacuations of illegal West Bank outposts will be met with widespread disruptive action, a defense source told The Jerusalem Post.
"Right now, small groups of people are trying to create an atmosphere," the source said. "These people feel that outpost evacuations are on the rise, and that the US is putting pressure on Israel on this issue. The activists are sending a clear message, saying that future evacuation of outposts won't go down peacefully."
While Monday's incidents are being viewed by security officials as small-scale, the officials together with security forces on the ground are closely monitoring events and have prepared for the possibility of an escalation.
"If this catches momentum, we will have to demonstrate that we are a country of laws," the defense source warned.
His comments appeared to be in line with remarks made by a Judea and Samaria police source, who said preparations had been made for "worst case scenarios" and an escalation of incidents across the West Bank and inside Israel.
"These protests are part and parcel of this area. We are prepared for the 'price tag' protests," the source said, referring to the term used by a group of settler activists to describe attacks on security forces and Palestinians in response to clearances of outposts.
The police source said he didn't believe an escalation was imminent, but added, "we are planning for the worst case scenario. Anything is possible."
As part of an effort to avoid the risk of information on future outpost clearances being leaked to the general public, the army will notify the police of planned evacuations only 24 hours before any such operation begins.
Meanwhile, the Border Police, which is the main security force called upon to break up riots and public disturbances, has been put on special notice and mobilized across the West Bank, as well as areas inside Israel, including Jerusalem, ahead of a potential escalation with settler activists.
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