Israel reinforcing troops in West Bank ahead of expected protests

Israel Materials 11 May 2011 21:42 (UTC +04:00)

The Israeli army has begun reinforcing its troops in the West Bank ahead of demonstrations Israel fears will break out on May 15, the anniversary of Israel's founding, the Jerusalem Post daily reported Wednesday.

Palestinians refer to Israel's establishment as the naqba (disaster). There had been calls via the Facebook and Twitter social networks for a new uprising against Israel to be launched on May 15, dpa reported.

Islamist groups have also called for worldwide protests to be launched on Friday and Saturday.

The Israel military had no comment on the Jerusalem Post report, except for a statement that "the army is deployed for all possible scenarios and in accordance with situation assessments."

According to the report in the Israeli daily, Israel Defence Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Benny Ganz met with brigade commanders in the West Bank Wednesday to review preparations for the expected protests.

Lieutenant General Ganz said that, while intelligence assessments were that the protests would not escalate into extreme violence, it was necessary to prepare for worst-case scenarios and the possibility that the demonstrations could turn violent.

The IDF has begun establishing rapid response teams and is identifying vantage points throughout the West Bank that could be used to contain Palestinian demonstrations.

The concern is that, in the event of several large simultaneous demonstrations, the IDF would not know how to contain the protests, leading to a high number of casualties. As a result, commanders have been instructed to prepare their soldiers in appropriate responses for such scenarios.