Palestinian Police Keeps Protesters in Check as UN Campaign Begins

Security forces coordinate with Israel Defense Forces to stop West Bank rallies moving to areas under Israeli control; reports of friction at Qalandiyah checkpoint and near Hebron.

The Palestinian security services have so far kept their promise to prevent rallies in West Bank cities from spilling over into areas controlled by Israel, and are continuing to coordinate with the Israel Defense Forces, officers in the Central Command said.

Nevertheless, Wednesday saw a significant rise in incidents of Palestinians stoning Israeli vehicles on West Bank roads. There was also friction at the Qalandiyah checkpoint north of Jerusalem and near the Jewish settlement in Hebron, but the IDF said such incidents were to be expected and do not indicate an escalation in the territories.

Ramallah rally 21911 Reuters

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Dozens of Palestinian teens threw bottles and rocks at IDF positions at Qalandiyah. Large IDF and Border Police forces that had deployed there before the incidents responded with tear gas. In addition, for the first time, they used a device that emits a high-pitched noise designed to make protesters retreat.

As part of the IDF's effort to prevent large demonstrations and injuries to Palestinians, troops in civilian clothing mingled with the protesters at Qalandiyah and arrested some of them.

Stone-throwing continued throughout most of the day, and two Palestinians protesters were lightly injured. But the most important thing, IDF officers said, is that Palestinian police kept the bulk of the demonstrators inside their own cities.

Central Command officers said they were in telephone contact with the Palestinian security forces all day.

Near the Jewish settlement in Hebron, Palestinian security forces lost control of the protesters for a few minutes and dozens managed to break through a roadblock and hurl stones at Jewish houses in the city. The IDF fired tear gas at them, and the Palestinian forces restored order. Later in the day, large Palestinian and Jewish forces kept their respective communities' protesters apart in Hebron.

The IDF had beefed up its forces in the territories with five regular army battalions out of concern that Palestinian protesters would attack IDF positions or settlements, but as of last night, they were not needed. The question now is whether more violent incidents will develop tomorrow, after Friday prayers.