Police brace for W. Bank violence

Brigade-level Border Police drill precedes decision on freeze.

bil'in protest 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
bil'in protest 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The Border Police will hold a massive drill in the West Bank this week aimed at preparing security forces for an escalation in Israeli and Palestinian violence.
The drill comes ahead of a government decision on whether to extend the freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank when the 10-month moratorium expires in September. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to be asked on his upcoming trip to the White House to extend the freeze by another year.
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“If the freeze is extended there will almost definitely be an escalation in anti-Palestinian attacks by settlers who live in the West Bank,” a top defense official said.
The brigade-level exercise will be held on Thursday and will involve hundreds of Border Policemen who will hold drills focusing on civil disturbances and crowd control. One of the scenarios will include a large Jewish demonstration during which Palestinians launch a terror attack.
“The scenarios are of a wide range and basically focus on the type of work that the Border Police does in the West Bank,” another official said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to beef up the number of security forces in the West Bank, the Defense Ministry is moving forward with a plan to transfer Border Police units currently stationed along the border between Jordan and the West Bank.
Border Police units reassigned from Jordanian border to W. Bank
Currently, a number of Border Police units – including an elite undercover unit in the Arava region – are posted along the Jordanian border. Since the border is relatively quiet, the Defense Ministry has asked to reassign the units to other parts of the country, with a particular emphasis on the West Bank.
While the IDF Central Command has noted a lull in terrorism in recent years, there has been an increase in civil disturbances in the West Bank and in anti-security barrier demonstrations, such as the ones held weekly at Bil’in and Ni’lin.
The IDF is also concerned over a possible rise in settler violence, particularly as September approaches and the government comes under increased pressure from the US and Europe to extend the moratorium.
Police preparations follow recent 'Price Tag' incidents
In April, the Central Command established a special task force of Border Policemen to enforce law and order in the Nablus area.
The decision followed a spate of anti-Palestinian attacks, including an attack by settlers from Yitzhar, who violently attacked soldiers near the settlement on Independence Day.
Other recent incidents include two Palestinian vehicles that were set on fire near Kedumim and spray-painted with the words “Price Tag,” indicating that the rampage was the work of settlers angry over the government’s plan to curb settlement construction. A mosque in the Palestinian town of Hawara, south of Nablus, was also defiled after masked men spray-painted a Star of David and the word Mohammed – in Hebrew – on the wall of a mosque.