The U.N. envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov urged Palestinians engaging in mass protests in the coming days to refrain from putting children at risk in areas where violence is likely to occur, the AFP reported on Monday.
“It is imperative that civilians, in particular children, not be targeted, and that all actors refrain from putting children at risk at any time,” Mladenov said via videoconference from Yerushalayim.
“I call on all sides to exercise restraint and to take the necessary steps to avoid violent escalation,” he said.
Palestinian families are planning to pitch hundreds of tents in the Gaza Strip near the border starting on Friday, known as “Land Day,” which marks the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galil on March 30, 1976, and the ensuing demonstrations in which six Arab Israelis were killed.
They say the protests will continue until May 15, the day after the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, which Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.”
In preparation for anticipated violence, the IDF plans to deploy additional battalions, Border Police units, and dozens of snipers along the Gaza border, to keep demonstrators from crossing into Israel, a military source was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying.
IDF soldiers will also be assigned to patrol Israeli communities closest to the Gaza border, Ynet reported on Monday.
The security forces will probably also use drones that can drop tear gas if necessary on protesters on the Gaza side of the border, a technique that was tested earlier this month.
According to Palestinian media, the IDF has sent bulldozers into the buffer zone between Israel and the Gaza Strip to clear the area of debris. Hadashot news also reported that additional barbed wire fencing was installed on the Gaza side of the security barrier.