Israeli predictions follow war game ahead of West Bank annexation; Defense minister holds crucial meeting with chiefs of IDF, Shin Bet and Mossad.
Israel’s defense establishment is on standby for an explosion of Palestinian violence in the West Bank and Gaza. Top security officials presented a range of scenarios to decision-makers, including a full-scale Palestinian uprising in response to the expected annexation of West Bank land.
Last night, Defense Minister Benny Gantz convened his security chiefs for a crucial meeting. The session followed a major war game this week to assess the potential reaction to Israel’s moves.
During the meeting, Gantz revealed that Israel will declare its intention to annex territories within days, according to military reporter Yoav Zitun.
IDF Chief Aviv Kochavi is warning Israel’s leaders of the potential for a major eruption, Channel 12 reported. The army chief says that annexation could lead to massive West Bank clashes and a surge in shooting attacks.
In an extreme case, violence could escalate to suicide bombings, a military clash with Hamas and a Palestinian Intifada, Kochavi says. On Thursday, Hamas warned that Israeli annexation will mark a “declaration of war.”
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The Shin Bet also sees a high risk of violence, political commentator Ben Caspit reported in Maariv daily this week. The security agency expects Gaza terror groups to instigate the hostilities, but also sees potential for a large-scale uprising.
However, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen is reportedly offering a more optimistic assessment. Several sources say that he does not expect annexation to trigger extensive violence.
War Game Predictions
The defense establishment has not shared the conclusions of the recent annexation war game, which also included the Israel police. The exercise featured experts and intelligence officials assuming the roles of key players such as Jordan’s king and the US president, military reporter Alex Fishman wrote in Yediot Aharonot daily.
The war game assessed various scenarios including large protests that spiral out of control, lone-wolf terror, and attacks by terrorist cells. Such events will require the IDF to deploy large forces in urban areas and carry out mass arrests.
The police were asked to join the exercise to prepare for eruption of violence in Jerusalem and specifically on Temple Mount.
Meanwhile, the IDF has already finalized detailed plans to counter violent incidents, Fishman wrote. But the army is not reinforcing its troops in the West Bank for now to avoid friction. However, more forces are ready for deployment within hours if the situation deteriorates.