On Friday, Hamas is planning a day of rage in the Gaza Strip, during which the security establishment fears thousands of Arab will be marching towards the border fence. The IDF says it has many means at its disposal – intelligence and operational – to disrupt and thwart the demonstrators and to prevent local eruptions that could lead to a widespread security escalation.
The IDF’s main concern is that terrorist operatives can hide under the cover of non-violent demonstrations, and shoot live fire at the Israeli side, using anything from an assault rifle to anti-tank missiles and even mortar shells. In such a case, the IDF is well aware of the damage images of Arab casualties can cause the Jewish State. Casualties would also lead to a further radicalization of the Arab civilian population.
The military has mapped the access routes, including the less conventional ones, which the demonstrators are expected to use to get near the fence. Monitoring these venues closely, IDF forces will be sent according to developments there, guided by unmanned aerial vehicles, observation planes, ground observation positions and dedicated radar. These will help field forces shift their deployment in real-time to events on the other side of the fence.
On the operational side, the IDF is preparing a “toolbox” to cope with Friday’s planned large demonstrations, including tear gas canisters and water cannons that will spray demonstrators with “skunk water,” a particularly repulsive, but harmless, chemical mix.
An interception force with snipers will be ready to use more punishing methods to repel demonstrators who cross a buffer zone of 450 feet west of the fence.
The IDF also plans to position tanks near the fence, mainly as a deterrence, to shoot machine-gun fire above the heads of the crowd should they attempt to climb the border fence, and to fire the occasional shell into nearby open spaces – a gesture that always persuades Arab demonstrators to stay away the fence.
Israel has been distributing a warning to the Arabs in Gaza: “We will not allow access to the border fence.” This information campaign is being carried out all the time and the people living beyond the fence are familiar with it.