In light with the current events and protests against the ruling regimes in some Arab countries, and the latest removal of Egyptian and Tunisian presidents, the Israeli Army’s Central Command in the West Bank have been tightly monitoring what is happening in the Arab world, and updating its operational plans for an anticipated nonviolent uprising in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.Although plans to deal with massive protests in the West Bank are already in place, the army started adjusting these plans following the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported.
Haaretz, one of the largest news outlets in Israel, stated that former and current Israeli army commanders in the occupied West Bank believe that Israel cannot effectively deal with widespread nonviolent protests, similar to the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.
Yet, the commanders also believe that “the chances for a totally nonviolent revolution in the occupied territories are low”, and that “certain elements will use the situation to attack the Israeli army”.
Yet, Palestinians, supported by Israeli and International peace activists, who are leading massive protests against the Annexation Wall and settlements, are involved in peaceful protests and are determined to continue the peaceful and popular approach despite being subject to excessive use of force by the army.
According to Haaretz, an army officer said that even before protests took place in Tunisia and Egypt, Israel anticipated such events, and presented plans that would deal with such situations, including the methods and crowd-dispersal means that would be used.
Haaretz stated that amidst the current usage of social network sites, the army realized the need to make preparations that are not only based on intelligence regarding intentions of Palestinian groups, but also on what Palestinians and their supporters are sending over the net, especially on social networking sites, such as twitter and Facebook.
But army commanders in the occupied territories said that, as long as the protestors do not attempt to march to Jewish settlements, the army does not need to prevent massive protests in the occupied territories.
The commanders also are considering the possibility that the protestors will try to damage sections of the Annexation Wall or checkpoints, and that should such incidents take place, “the army would use teargas and rubber-coated metal bullets”.
But ongoing experiences with the way the army deals with nonviolent protests against the Wall and settlements, push local Palestinian leaders to believe that the army will resort to more lethal weapons, especially since dozens of casualties were reported due to the army’s use of excessive force against nonviolent protesters.
As for the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, and while “acknowledging their strategic role and security cooperation with Israel in the last two years”, Israeli security agencies do not believe that P.A. security forces will be helpful in the event of a popular uprising, and that in this regard, the army is trying to locate other channels within the local civilian leaders in the territories.
Furthermore, several army battalion commanders who are involved in operational tasks in the occupied territories are currently participating in seminars, briefing sessions and workshops, while brigade commanders are participating in discussions regarding operation plans in preparation for such anticipated massive popular protests, Haaretz concluded.