Nakba day protest (archives)
Photo: Hagai Aharon

The goal: Zero funerals

Op-ed: IDF ordered to show restraint in bid to avoid ‘Nakba Day’ escalation to full-scale uprising

Here’s an indicator of the latest developments: Fatah and Hamas set up a committee that will jointly manage “Nakba Day” events in the West Bank and in Gaza. It was a secret move, and Israel did not receive any official hint, so all it can do is try to predict what the upcoming “Nakba Day” will look like given the new Palestinian love affair.


Until that point, all the estimations of Israel’s various security arms and experts, who believe that everything will pass relatively quietly, are somewhere between a guess and wishful thinking.


“Nakba Day” events will be taking place at various locations, in different geographical areas, and may deeply affect each other. Hence, any pledge by any element, but it Israeli or Palestinian, to maintain restraint in the West Bank promises nothing.


The situation in the West Bank may escalate to uncontrolled violence as result of external influence, such as the following: Protests by the Islamic Brotherhood and opposition elements in Jordan; marches towards that border that will be aired on TV and inflame emotions; mass demonstrations in Egypt under the banner of the “Third Intifada committee”; mass marches in Gaza; violence among Arab-Israelis; and a flare-up in the Middle East’s most problematic theater: Friday prayers at Temple Mount.


If any such event escalates to bloodshed it may shatter all the predictions of calm.


Officials in the defense establishment and at the Prime Minister’s Office have a feeling that the Palestinian Authority’s interest – despite the coordination with Hamas – prompts the conclusion that “wasting” the public’s energies on “Nakba Day” is not a worthwhile move. These energies are better reserved for September, when Palestinian statehood may be declared.


Soldiers without guns 

Israeli officials believe that the PA has no interest in portraying itself in the world as an irresponsible body that cannot maintain calm. Moreover, any violent outbreak will draw fire to PA leaders and present them as ones who capitulated to Hamas’ dictates.


PA leaders even urged the Palestinian public not to escalate “Nakba Day” events to the point of a third Intifada. Moreover, in meetings between Israeli officials and their Palestinian counterparts, the Palestinians made it clear that they will do everything in order to quickly curb any unusual or violent incident.


At the same time, despite the PA’s official call to avoid a third Intifada, local committees that disregard the central leadership have urged their followers to head to roadblocks and settlements and to confront IDF troops.


Israel’s political leadership instructed the IDF not to take risks and assume major precautions. Indeed, the army already reinforced its troops in the West Bank and prepared reserve forces as well.


The IDF will deploy in force at potential trouble spots, in order to make its presence felt and create deterrence. In the first circles of friction with protestors, soldiers will not be carrying weapons, but rather, only crowd-control means. The orders call on soldiers to show restraint and avoid casualties, which are the tested and true recipe for escalation; we want zero funerals, as the army refers to it.


In the next circles of security, there will be a response for the possibility that the protestors will also include gunmen in their midst. Soldiers have been instructed to put an end to any escalation at its early stages, using massive force. Meanwhile, Israeli officials hope that their coordination with the Palestinian Authority will remain effective, as it was in the past.



פרסום ראשון: 05.12.11, 17:53
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