Jerusalem24 – Israeli Border Police reserves have been redeployed to Palestinian and mixed Jewish-Palestinian towns inside Israel in anticipation of unrest triggered by Israel’s assault on Gaza.
Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev called up 10 border police reserve companies on Friday, at the onset of Israel’s bombing campaign against Gaza, and ordered them on standby.
During Israel’s last war on Gaza in May 2021, Palestinian citizens of Israel rose up and protested alongside Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as the looming eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah also made international headlines.
This was dubbed the Unity Intifada by Palestinians, as it marked the first time Palestinians with Israeli citizenship had risen to protest their own conditions within Israel alongside Palestinians under occupation.
Human Rights Watch accused Israeli law enforcement agencies of using excessive force to disperse protests by Palestinians in Lydd during the unrest, while reacting half-heartedly and unevenly to violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel committed by Jewish ultra-nationalists.
Severe damage to both private and public property was incurred in several towns in Israel, notably towns with a fully Palestinian population as well as mixed Palestinian-Jewish towns. Mixed Jewish-Palestinian towns have received compensation for damage incurred, whereas fully Palestinian towns have been denied such compensation.
In June 2022, former Bar-Lev and former prime minister Naftali Bennett announced that “tens of thousands of Israelis” were expected to join a newly-created “Israeli National Guard” unit. The new unit’s creation as well as the reinforcement of existing units was in response, Bennett said, to the events of May 2021.
Police stations in cities with mixed populations of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis such as Lydd, Akka, Jaffa, and Haifa have also been drawing in additional recruits since last year.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Bennett and Bar-Lev announcing the new unit’s creation in June, Police Commissioner Superintendent Kobi Shabtai said: “About a year ago, we experienced an unprecedented event in Israel. An attempted uprising of thousands of Arab citizens, a dangerous combination of criminal elements and extremist terrorist elements banding together to harm civilians and undermine the foundations of the state.”
Israeli affairs commentators have said Israel was ill-prepared for a scenario such as the Unity Intifada of May 2021.
In April 2022, Israel’s army added “clashes” between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel in its scenario-planning for future conflict risks.