Border Police to patrol mixed cities and Home Front Command reservists to secure roads are among the new policies.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The IDF has set new policies for securing the home front and enabling the free movement of men and equipment to the relevant border in case of war, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.
There are three parts to the plan, which has been formulated in reaction to what happened in the country during May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, when Israel retaliated against Hamas for firing thousands of rockets at the country from the Gaza Strip.
The two main problems at the time were the many cases of Arab Israelis rioting in mixed cities, and several attempts to block roads near a major military base in the south. Military vehicles have also been targets while traveling on routes in the north. The IDF is concerned that such actions, as well as others, may only increase the next time Israel must go on the attack.
“We are focused on offense, but could pay a heavy price in defense that will interfere with the plans for the offense,” a senior officer explained to the daily.
“This is a new challenge we didn’t have to deal with in the past, one that requires us to prepare now so we won’t be surprised in the future,” the officer added.
In case of war, Border Police units will now be immediately reassigned to the Israel Police to patrol in mixed Arab-Israeli cities where violence is anticipated. In May, throngs of mostly young Arab men rampaged in the streets of Lod, Jerusalem, Haifa, and other cities, chanting their support for Hamas. They set fire to hundreds of Jewish-owned cars, destroyed a few homes and synagogues, and injured several people, killing one. Then, it took a few days until a state of emergency was declared and border policemen were brought in to secure the worst-hit areas.
Although it is a military force, it is formally the border security branch of the police force, with law enforcement duties among the civilian population. As such, using the Border Police will avoid the need of using regular soldiers against civilians.
Since the IDF believes that the police will have their hands full dealing with repeated riots, the second part of the plan calls for reservist battalions of the Homefront Command to be called up to ensure that roads and military convoys will not be attacked by either external or internal enemies.
“We understand that if in the past, a tank transport driver could have loaded a tank and driven feely from northern Israel to the south or the opposite, now he’ll need security,” said the IDF officer.
The third part of the policy, still in the planning stages, deals with methods of increasing the pool of police officers who can deal with security issues without needing the IDF to intervene when it has its hands full against Hamas or Hezbollah forces.
Earlier this month, the army’s outgoing chief of logistics, Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Turgeman, had told Maariv that the IDF has marked out a thousand miles of dirt tracks to use to get to potential front lines in war instead of driving on roads running through Arab towns.
It was “not worth the investment” of the heavy amount of forces that would be necessary just to use certain traffic arteries when there are other ways to get to the front, Turgeman said.