Israeli media sources reported on Wednesday that the Israeli Army are set to increase West Bank deployment as Palestinians prepare to commemorate the Nakba, or in English ‘catastrophe’ from the period of 1948 which saw the establishment of the state of Israel after an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes.
The annual ‘Nakba Day’ will be marked on May 15. Israeli Security chiefs have been closely monitoring the situation in advance, and as of Wednesday the Israeli troop deployment throughout many areas in the West Bank and close to the Gaza strip will increase significantly, the army announced. Despite considerations that the Palestinian security forces will be aiming to keep tensions low, the Israeli army is preparing for various scenarios, including cases of extreme violence envisaged, sources reported on Wednesday.
According to the Israeli army site several regiments will be joining units already in place, in case Palestinian rallies needed to be suppressed or clashes take place Israeli forces and settlers.
“We don’t want to be surprised or improvise a response at the last moment,” a military official said, while expressing his hope that quiet will prevail throughout ‘Nakba Day.’
The Israeli army says is still unsure of how intense the planned events will be and whether they will spill out from areas under Palestinian control, but preparations are being made in the event that thousands of Palestinian civilians attempt to march toward Jewish settlements or illegal Israeli wall in the West Bank, or toward the border fence of the Gaza Strip.
Israel Police officials are also preparing for the possibility of protests organized in Palestinian areas inside Israel. Police officers fear that planned rallies and marches will turn into mass riots and will discuss the option of boosting police deployment over the weekend.
The Rally held Tuesday evening in which 15,000 people took part in a Nakba Day rally in the western Galilee region displays some of the discontent inside Israel itself. According to media sources the army will also be looking to prepare for similar displays on the May 15.
Arab Knesset members and senior Islamic Movement figures participated in the Galilee rally. People held Palestinian flags and signs with anti-occupation slogans. Cities within Israel’s Green Line, including Kfar Saba and Petach Tikva, just north of Tel Aviv, were also declared as “occupied.” The rally also endorsed the recent Hamas-Fatah unity deal.
Israeli forces are on extra alert this year as Palestinian and international groups have been calling for civil disobedience both in the West Bank and in states sharing a border with Israel. The trend got underway with the launch of a Facebook page urging the Palestinians to embark on a third Intifada on May 15.
Elsewhere online, several groups are organizing with the aims of reaching Israel’s borders. One such initiative is being organized in Egypt, with university students expected to depart from Cairo Friday en route to the Gaza Strip border.