Israeli police not prepared for day after PA's Abbas

Despite old guard planning ahead for death of aging Palestinian leader, new commanders not familiar with contingency plans and West Bank could devolve into chaos

Liran Levi|
The Israeli security forces have been preparing for the day Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, will no longer preside over Palestinian politics.
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  • The police have expressed concern that the death of Abbas would beget chaos across the West Bank and drew up two potential operational plans. The forces have even conducted exercises to practice possible scenarios on the ground.
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    ועידת הליגה הערבית בטוניסיה
    ועידת הליגה הערבית בטוניסיה
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
    (Photo: Reuters)
    However, a recent change of guard in the ranks of the local police force in the West Bank could leave the commanders and officers unprepared as some officials warn that the police had not held any drills to simulate their response to the passing of the Palestinian leader since 2018.
    Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth was given access to these plans. Officials said local commanders assigned since were not versed in past or new operational plans, raising concerns that the police forces will be caught off guard.
    The first plan is code-named "Sunset", and lays out the course of action immediately following Abbas's death, including troop deployment in major West Bank junctions, and coordination with the IDF in case of violent clashes.
    The blueprints outline instructions for the rescue of Israeli settlers caught in dangerous situations, including stone-throwing, firebombing and live fire.
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    מעבר גשר אלנבי
    מעבר גשר אלנבי
    Allenby bridge border crossing
    (Photo: AFP)
    One potential scenario raised within the framework of this plan is IDF and police forces being tapped to escort Abbas' coffin.
    Another scenario deals with the possibility of the PA president being hospitalized in Jordan and dying there, which would require a police escort through the Allenby Bridge border crossing and its safe passage to Ramallah.
    The second plan, dubbed by police "Game of Thrones", focuses on different potential scenarios during the liminal phase between Abas's death and the ascension of a new leader in Ramallah.
    Police officials say that after the funeral procession, which is expected to be attended by many thousands of people, different militant groups and political factions may attempt to seize power in specific regions of the West Bank. This could lead to bloody clashes between regional clans and endanger nearby settlements.
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    Palestinian militants
    Palestinian militants
    Palestinian militants
    (Photo: EPA)
    "Abbas is not young and also not healthy," a senior official said. "The fact that current commanders on the ground aren't familiar with the plans and that there have been no drills since 2018 is a badge of shame for the police. It is clear that in the event of Abbas's passing, the relevant officers will not be prepared at all."
    Israel Police declined to comment or confirm the reporting.
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