With security forces gearing up for mass Palestinian protests along Gaza’s border with Israel, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich projected a business-as-usual approach Tuesday when he said at a briefing that there were no unusual domestic terror warnings for the upcoming Passover festival.
The picture in the run-up to the festival was no different from that of any other day of the year, he said.
By contrast, Israel’s Counter-Terror Bureau warned Israelis against travel to 28 countries because of terror threats.
Land Day marks the Israeli government’s expropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee on March 30, 1976, and ensuing demonstrations in which six Arab Israelis were killed.
“There is no need to worry about Land Day events within Israel,” Alsheich told reporters, adding that the anniversary had gone by without incident in the past 15 years.
This year, Land Day coincides with the eve of the week-long Passover festival on Friday.
Earlier this month, Palestinian groups announced plans for a six-week-long “March of Return,” including the construction of a tent city across from the Gaza security fence, and called on tens of thousands of Gaza residents to participate in what they described as a “peaceful protest.”
The march is set to begin on Friday and to continue until May 15, the day after the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, which Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
On Monday, Army chief Gadi Eisenkot warned that the Gaza border area was “highly volatile.”
While organizers said the protest was meant to be peaceful, the army is preparing for the demonstrations to resemble the violent riots that have taken place along the Gaza security fence on a weekly basis since December, when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. These weekly protests generally involve young Palestinian men burning tires and hurling rocks or Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops on the other side of the barrier.
Additional army battalions, Border Police units, and dozens of snipers will be deployed along the Gaza border on Friday, in order to keep demonstrators from crossing, a military source said.
Meanwhile, the Counter-Terror Bureau of the National Security Council, part of the Prime Minister’s Office, on Sunday warned Israelis against traveling to 28 countries during Passover, March 30-April 6; Independence day, April 18-19; and Shavuot, May 19-20.
The warnings, it said, were based on firm information and real threats.
According to the unit, military action by Russia and the US in Syria and Iraq has forced the Islamic State organization to regroup and to focus more on global terror.
At the same time, independent radical Islamist organizations and lone wolves increased their terror activity in Western countries over the past year, and this trend was expected to continue.
Locations for which the alerts are highest include the Sinai Peninsula, the southern Philippines, southern Thailand and Indian Kashmir.
Turkey and Tunisia have slightly less intense Level 2 warnings, while Level 3 countries include Jordan, Kenya and Egypt.