IDF Beefs Up Presence in Gaza, Yesha Ahead of Tense Week

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli border police officers guard during a protest ahead of the 70th anniversary of “Nakba”near Beit Lechem. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Thousands of soldiers have been dispatched to Yehudah and Shomron (Yesha) and to the Gaza border area, as a tense week begins. Thousands of Gaza Arabs are expected to try to break through the border fence on Tuesday, which Palestinians mark as “Nakba Day” – the “day of destruction” – corresponding to the secular date of the fifth of Iyar in 1948, the date the State of Israel was declared. While disturbances on this day have largely occurred in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Yehudah and Shomron, Hamas has sworn this year to use the day for its “Great March,” in which it intends to tear down the Gaza border fence with a force of tens of thousands.

Forces have been briefed on what to expect, including the possibility of extreme scenarios, including the likelihood that terrorists will use the riots and disorder to set bombs and shoot at IDF soldiers. Soldiers have also been warned of the likelihood that terrorists will try to kidnap soldiers. Armed Hamas terrorists are likely to shoot at soldiers from among rioters who will try to scale the fence.

The IDF does not dismiss the possibility that the fence will indeed be breached, but large forces will be deployed to ensure that rioters do not get into towns and villages in the border area. The closest towns are a kilometer away from the border fence, so it is hoped that soldiers will be able to halt the advance of rioters.

Unrest in Yehudah and Shomron, meanwhile, is expected on Monday, the day of the opening of the U.S. Embassy, located on the grounds of the current U.S. Consulate in the Armon Hanatziv area. Riots are expected at the checkpoints at the entrances to Yerushalayim, and terrorist attacks within the city itself are possible, officials said.