According to a report published in Haaretz today, here, the IDF is going to deploy fresh conscripts for May 15/Nakba Day protests along The Wall after crash training + “psychological preparation”.
The IDF preparations are apparently geared not just to contain, if necessary, but also to actually prevent planned Palestinian civilian non-violent protests to mark Nakba Day, which organizers say will involve marches to IDF checkpoints and to The Wall.
The Haaretz story says that “The Israel Defense Force is preparing to substantially bolster its presence near Palestinian population centers in the coming two weeks … [and] preparations are being made in the event that thousands of Palestinian civilians attempt to march toward Jewish settlements or the separation fence in the West Bank, or toward the border fence of the Gaza Strip”.
According to Haaretz, “To prevent such developments, the IDF is planning to halt training for many of the conscript units and deploy them near possible points of friction in the West Bank. Prior to their deployment, the units will undergo training on how to disperse demonstrations and also undergo ‘psychological preparation’ for dealing with civilians. Border Police units, which specialize in dispersing demonstrations, will also be significantly bolstered”.
Haaretz noted, in its report, that “the IDF has significantly cut down the deployment of conscript and reservists units in the West Bank, to allow for longer and more complex training than done in the past. This was in part possible because of the improved security situation in the West Bank, the transfer of security responsibility for Palestinian cities to the Palestinian Authority, and the assignment of Palestinian policemen to cover villages in the area. The IDF hopes the Palestinian security forces will ensure that the demonstrations remain under control, but the Central Command is preparing for scenarios in which the PA security will not intervene and thousands of Palestinian civilians will try to move toward settlements or the separation fence”.
Didi Remez, on Twitter (@DidiRemez) has also given a link to a translation (via Sol Salbe in Australia via Facebook here) into English of some bits of the original Haaretz report in English that apparently were missing in Haaretz’s own English version of the story .
The Facebook post by Salbe says: “Today’s Haaretz article here appears to have truncated some vital details which were included in the Hebrew version. No doubt pressure of work has been telling on the translator staff. However, some details need to come out. Hebrew readers are told that IDF is taking steps to avoid bloodshed because of the presence of [mainly international] news media. According the story it is not so much the bloodshed, but the media coverage that would incite a new wave of violence. Included below is my quick translation of the missing bit
[Hebrew original: here]:
‘The IDF plan’s outline involves the drawing of ‘red lines’, including arterial roads, fences surrounding settlements and the Hafrada (separation) Fence itself. Palestinians will not be allowed to approach those. As the IDF is aware that media groups and film crews will accompany the processions, the army will attempt to avoid bloodshed that would stir up feeling and would set off a new wave of violence in the [Occupied] Territories. The army is also closely monitoring the activities of Palestinian groups on social networks such as Facebook, to try and predict where confrontations are liable to occur.
The army has a lot less flexibility around the Gaza Strip. It is unclear how Hamas will proceed during the forthcoming Nakba Day events, given the recent announcement of the reconciliation agreement between it and Fatah‘.”
May 15 is also the day that the Proclamation of the State of Israel was read out in Tel Aviv, just after midnight, in 1948, as British troops finished their evacuation of Palestine [which they conquered after trouncing Ottoman forces in 1917].
Israeli Independence Day celebrations are held according to the Jewish calendar, so the dates rarely coincide.
The Israeli Knesset is in the midst of drafting legislation to ban any comemoration of Nakba Day in Israel…
Meanwhile, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta said at a presentation in Washington last week of his research on the Palestinian eviction and dispossession in 1948 that, in the spirit of the “Arab Spring”, there will be a “masiirat al-awda” [a demonstration about return] to mark Nakba [“catastrophe”] Day which is commemorated annually on May 15 — though the demonstration may be held on Friday 13 May, a Friday, he said. “It will be a peaceful demonstration but highly symbolic”, Dr. Abu Sitta said. “People will carry banners and signs with the names of their villages…Some of these people can actually see their home villages” from their refugee camps and places of exile. He said that this “masiirat al-awda” will be held on all borders [of Israel] — the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria”. We reported on this earlier here.