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IDF seeking to prevent casualties ahead of UN vote

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The Israel Defense Forces are currently on a high level of alert, in preparation for all possible scenarios as the date for the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN draws near. The key aim, according to a statement by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Saturday, is to prevent any deaths, Israeli or Palestinian. IDF Central Command, which covers the West Bank, has been reinforced with three additional battalions, according to Israeli media reports. Border Police and IDF reserve forces will also be made available according to need. Both IDF and the Palestinian Authority security forces have been equipped with large amounts of non-lethal crowd control equipment, to best enable the prevention of fatalities. There are particular concerns regarding the possibility of clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians. These could take the form of attacks by extremist settlers on Palestinian property, or an attempt by Palestinians to march on one of the settlements adjoining Area A, which is under Palestinian security and political control.

However, not all officials and analysts are predicting Palestinian violence following the statehood bid. Senior PA official Nabil Sha’ath said in an interview with Israel Army Radio over the weekend that he does not foresee an outbreak of violence in the West Bank unless the settlers initiate confrontation. Sources in the West Bank also suggest a lack of enthusiasm among large numbers of the population for the UN bid, indicating that disappointment is unlikely to be intense if it fails to go through. However, protests did take place at the Qalandia Checkpoint near Jerusalem on Saturday, in which rocks were thrown at IDF troops.