'Nakba Day, call for state may boost Palestinian protests'

OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi warns of increased protest activities coinciding with possible September unilateral declaration of statehood.

Avi Mizrahi 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Avi Mizrahi 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Palestinian popular protests could increase this year around Nakba Day, which is marked on May 15, and in September, when a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state is possible, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi said Tuesday.
The protests are likely to occur in September irrespective of whether the UN actually recognizes a Palestinian state, Mizrahi said.
He spoke at a festive event, held in the Efrat settlement for the Judea and Samaria District Police. Police hiked 6.5 kilometers through historic areas of Gush Etzion and held a barbecue, prior to listening to speeches by Mizrahi and outgoing police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen.
In the coming year, Mizrahi said, “we need to continue to defend against terror” and to prepare for “national Palestinian protests.”
In the last month, tensions have been particularly high among settlers and security forces in light of a Border Police decision to fire plastic bullets at settlers in the Gilad Farm outpost in February.
Addressing the police, Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, spoke out against the Gilad Farm incident.
At Gilad Farm, he said, security forces “crossed a red line when it used weapons, albeit not deadly ones, against residents. The event did not justify it.”
At the same time, Dayan added that he condemned any use of civilian violence against police, including damaging security vehicles.
“To my sorrow, there have been incidents where citizens have raised a hand against police and have punctured tires and done other things. These incidents are worthy of condemnation. We must have a zero-tolerance policy [with respect to these acts],” he said.
Still, Dayan told police not punish an entire settlement for the actions of a few individuals within it.
He thanked the police for their hard work in combating drugs and traffic issues and for keeping an open line of communication with the settler leadership.
Cohen, who retires in May after 38 years in uniform – the last four years of which he’s spent as inspector-general – said he was proud to have served his country.
He added that he was grateful for every second spent in uniform and the fact that he was able help the police defend democracy.