Friday, September 16, 2011

Israel reinforces West Bank ahead of Palestinian UN bid

Israel's military beefed up its forces in the West Bank on Friday ahead of expected Palestinian demonstrations ahead of their statehood bid at the United Nations on September 23, public radio reported.

The daily Yediot Aharonot said three battalions of reservists – some 1,500 personnel – have been mobilised and that units already operating in the occupied territory have been reinforced.

A fourth reserve battalion has been sent to the West Bank in case it is needed to replace an active unit that may be redeployed to the border with Egypt.

General Avi Mizrahi, the commander of central Israel which includes the West Bank, has issued strict orders to the military to act with restraint and avoid bloodshed if trouble erupts, the newspaper said.

It said troops in the Palestinian territory have been armed with anti-riot equipment including tear gas to enable them to control any protests without having to resort to live ammunition.

The military is also reported to have boosted its presence around Jewish settlements in the West Bank, both to protect them and to prevent attacks on Palestinians by extremist settlers. more