Israel's military, police and Shin Bet security service have been drilling extreme scenarios of possible Palestinian disturbances, mass rallies or even terrorist attacks in September – even through there is no specific intelligence of a security threat in the offing. The authorities are taking care not to be caught off guard again as they were on May 15, when a Palestinian mob suddenly surged across the Syrian border.
According to DEBKAfile's intelligence sources, no organized Palestinian body or group is actively preparing disorders or acts of terror outside the West Bank and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has never named any officer to set up such troubles.
All that is happening is that low-ranking Fatah field activists have held meetings during the last month at Fatah district cells to discuss holding possibly rowdy demonstrations near the Israeli border and settlements. So far the talk has not reached the point of action.
Those sources say Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was exaggerating when he warned last Sunday, August 7, that the Palestinians were preparing for "unprecedented bloodshed" after the UN vote in September.
"The more they (the Palestinians) talk about nonviolent activity, the more intensive are their preparations for bloodshed," he said. "When you plan for a march of tens of thousands of people to overrun the checkpoints and burst through, it is not hard to imagine what will happen if 30,000-40,000 people mob a checkpoint. The Palestinians are preparing this down to the last detail."
This prediction is not confirmed by security circles, who suggest that it may be based on the worst-case scenarios for which the IDF, Police and Shin Bet are obliged to be prepared – even in the absence of solid evidence.
Two months ago, the international flotilla for breaking Israel's Gaza blockade presented another surprise, although this time it was a relief. Israel had geared up to intercept dozens of ships and thousands of protesters, some of them violent like last year. In the end the protest fizzled out and only a small yacht with 16 activists turned up.
All the same, DEBKAfile's military sources report the three security organizations have established "September Command Centers" for coordination in case of an extreme event, such as violent Palestinian demonstrations backed from Syria, Lebanon (Hizballah) and the Gaza Strip with cross-border terrorist and military attacks and incursions.
The Assad regime and Hamas each has an interest in such action – the former for drawing attention away from his ferocious assaults on civilians and the latter for stealing the thunder of Mahmoud Abbas's step to gain UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state – if he goes through with it.
Those sources believe the three external parties will only go into action if the Palestinians manage to stage massive and dramatic demonstrations on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They will then pose as championing the Palestinian cause.
Wednesday, Aug. 10, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz paid a surprise visit to the Binyamin Brigade and ordered the soldiers on the spot to practice their responses to a sudden emergency with no advance warning, as part of the military preparations for the Palestinian declaration of independence.
The brigade went into instant action in an area stretching from Maccabim in the west to Highway 443 in the center and Jerusalem in the east, tying up highway traffic for hours.
Israelintelligence has also intensified its monitoring operations of Palestinian activity,DEBKAfile's military sources report, analyzing and relaying to the September Command Centers word of every movement and cyber flicker.
Its superfine net caught an unexpected fish Wednesday when Salim Alawi, Al Jazeera's senior correspondent in Afghanistan coming from Jordan was stopped for inspection at the Allenby bridge border post on the Israeli side of the border. Israel security had received advance notice of his arrival. Its officers are still trying to puzzle out what brought him from Afghanistan to the West Bank this August.
They are questioning the journalist, who is known for his ties with the Taliban, to find out if he has information about impending events in the Palestinian arena that Israeli security should have.
With so many "ifs" and "buts" every avenue is being explored.