Senior officer estimates level of violence in Jerusalem will gradually die down, says 'Palestinian residents want to return to normal life.' Forces instructed to be cautious, for fear that large number of Palestinian casualties will lead to escalation
Hanan Greenberg Published: 03.16.10, 23:19 / Israel News
A senior Israel Defense Forces source estimated Tuesday that the violent clashes in Jerusalem were local incidents which would not spark a new intifada and spread to areas outside the city. Palestinian elements threatened earlier that the riots would develop into a wide-scale violent struggle.
"Apart from a number of local stone throwing incidents on the backdrop of what is happening around the Temple Mount, particularly on the part of children and youth, we have not seen any wider disturbances," the senior officer said.
"I believe the level of violence will only die down. The Palestinian residents want to return to their normal life, send their children to school and enjoy the economic improvement. This is the reason why we will see fewer and fewer incidents of this kind."
IDF officials believe that the efficient activity of the Palestinian Authority's security forces in dispersing the riots reflects the PA's fear that things may get out of control or develop into a sensitive situation, in which they may suffer losses when facing Israel.
"They are responsible for the restraint. They have large forces which can arrive shortly. If it wasn't for them, the IDF would have had to act closer to the Palestinians, and this may have raised the tension."
Preventing wide-scale conflict
Due to the sensitive situation, the forces on the ground were instructed to act thoroughly but cautiously for fear of a local conflict which would develop into wide-scale disturbances.
Addressing the situation in the Hebron area, the source noted that despite Hamas' clear interest to lead to deterioration, the organization is finding it difficult to execute its plans.
"Hamas is finding it difficult to set the ground on fire. Despite their statements, they don't have the power to bring thousands out to the streets. There is, in general, a trend of more events like parades, not for the sake of violence but for the sake of protest."
The Hebron region is considered one of the most sensitive in the West Bank, particularly around the Temple Mount and the tensions between settlers and Palestinians living in the area.
The local brigade, commanded by Colonel Udi Ben Mocha, has been on a heightened state of alert for more than two weeks, due to the high potential of an escalation in the relations between Jewish and Palestinian residents.
The source noted that the local Jewish population has been acting responsibly lately, preventing an inflammation in the area. "They know that this is a sensitive area and that all eyes are on them, and they know that they should not be dragged to a state of escalation. We hope it will be this way during Passover as well."
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