Israeli Army Braces for Escalation in Violence as Passover Nears

'We’re heading for the holiday period and are still receiving terror alerts. This atmosphere of terror wave doesn’t end in one day,' says a senior officer in the IDF's Judea and Samaria Division.

Palestinian protesters wave a flag during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Duma near Nablus, April 5, 2016.
Reuters

The IDF has beefed up its deployment in West Bank spots and Jerusalem, in anticipation of an escalation in violence ahead of Passover, a senior officer in the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division said on Wednesday.

Although the number of terror attacks and stone-throwing incidents has declined considerably in the past month, the IDF is bracing for possible escalation in Hebron, Eztion junction, Nablus and Tapuach, Ariel square, Sha’ar Binyamin Industrial Zone and the Ramallah city area, the officer said.

Military sources attribute the reduction in the number of knife attacks, car-rammings and stone-throwing incidents to the activity of the IDF and Palestinian security branches, and to the perpetrators’ feeling that their actions are ineffective.

“We see a consistent wane in the incidents from month to month,” a senior officer in the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division told military reporters. “The [Palestinian] public is weary.”

However, the officer described the current period as an unstable “respite” and said things could flare up.

“We’re heading for the holiday period and are still receiving terror alerts. This atmosphere of terror wave doesn’t end in one day,” he noted. “Traditionally Passover is a tense period in Jerusalem around Al-Aqsa Mosque and there are more visitors in the area.

“Hostilities could flare up on Passover, Independence Day or the month of Ramadan. We’re anticipating a more significant escalation over the holidays,” he said.

Referring to Sgt. E., who shot dead a wounded, disarmed Palestinian assailant lying on the ground in Hebron last month, the officer said the military investigation into the incident was conducted by himself and by the battalion commander and had been completed before the video film of the event was aired.

The inquiry found failures in both the soldier’s and his commanders’ conduct, he said. “This is not what I expect – either from the moral or the professional aspect,” he said.

Since the recent spate of violence there was never any suspicion of the Palestinian assailants wearing explosive vests. The instructions to soldiers in the event that such a suspicion does arise is to move away from the site, he said, referring to claims that the soldier shot the Palestinian assailant for fear that he was carrying explosives.