Israel Defense Officials: IDF Fully Prepared to Cope With Mass Palestinian Protests

The statement comes in response to documents from 2010 recently leaked by Wikileaks, in which high ranking officers expressed difficulty dealing with non-violent protests.

Senior Israeli defense establishment officials told U.S. diplomats last year that they were concerned about the Israel Defense Forces' ability to deal with nonviolent protests on the part of the Palestinians, according to documents published this weekend on the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks also published an admission by Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit that the IDF is using unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists, and that at the beginning of last year the IDF asked the Interior Ministry's Oz unit to arrest and deport foreign human rights activists who were working in the territories.

gilad - Nir Kafri - April 10 2011
Nir Kafri

The statements by the Israeli defense officials were made during meetings held in early 2010, long before the Palestinians' intention to request statehood from the United Nations this month was on the agenda. At one of the meetings, the head of the Defense Ministry's Political-Security wing, Major General (res. ) Amos Gilad, is quoted as saying: "We don't deal well with Gandhi" - a reference to the former Indian leader's tactic of nonviolent protest against British rule in India.

The meetings were also attended by GOC Central Command Major General Avi Mizrahi, who, according to the U.S. diplomats, "expressed frustration about the ongoing protests in the West Bank." Mizrahi, the U.S. diplomats said, termed the demonstrations "allegedly nonviolent" and declared that the IDF would come down with a heavy hand against these protest rallies. Mizrahi said the Palestinians were participating in these demonstrations "only because they were told to do so," and that the rallies had been organized by "suspicious individuals."

For their part, the U.S. diplomats linked these remarks with the arrests in January 2010 of foreign anarchists and human rights activists in the West Bank, and their and subsequent deportations.

Following the WikiLeaks publications, sources at the Central Command said the statements made to the U.S. diplomats were no longer relevant, and that the IDF was now well prepared to cope with mass demonstrations in the West Bank after the UN vote.

The WikiLeaks documents also include statements made by Mendelblit in a meeting in February 2010 with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham. Mendelblit met with Cunningham to update him on the IDF's investigation into incidents of civilian casualties during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. One of the incidents involved an IDF assault on a group of Hamas activists outside a mosque in Gaza. The IDF strike left 16 Palestinians dead, mostly from inside the mosque.

"Mendelblit said the facts were known," said the summary of the meeting that was sent to Washington. "A UAV fired at two Hamas fighters who were standing in front of the mosque and the result was 16 casualties from inside the mosque - due to an open door through which shrapnel penetrated during a prayer service."

According to Cunningham, Mendelblit had added that at least five of the dead had also been members of Hamas' military wing, although they were not targets of the operation.