PA security keep the peace in the West Bank

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 22, 2011
Around 13,000 gathered in Ramallah on Wednesday in support of the bid

Around 13,000 gathered in Ramallah on Wednesday in support of the bid

"So far, the Palestinians are sticking by our arrangements," said the senior IDF officer as he looked from afar at the small group of Palestinian youths throwing stones and bottles at the Kalandia Crossing, north of Jerusalem, on Wednesday.

The stone-throwing at what has become over years the "traditional" flashpoint between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators, surprised no-one. The IDF had prepared a large force with a wide range of riot-dispersal equipment to make sure the violence would not get of hand.

What was much more important was the event going on a few kilometres away: the mass rally in central Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority's administrative capital.

Around 13,000 Palestinians gathered in the central square to support President Mahmoud Abbas's bid for independence at the United Nations, but after three hours of rousing speeches, they dispersed without attempting to march on an Israeli checkpoint.

The same picture repeated itself on a smaller scale in other Palestinian cities, with only one exception. "Everything was well co-ordinated," said an officer of the IDF's Central Command, "Palestinian security forces made sure things did not boil over at any of the demonstrations. Only in Hebron did they lose control for a while, but order was quickly restored."

A few dozen demonstrators in Hebron managed to cross through the checkpoints and throw stones at the Jewish settlement in the city, but they were repelled with tear gas. An hour later, calm had been restored.

The first two days of the UN General Assembly have passed relatively peacefully. The next big test for both sides is expected to present itself today: demonstrations may return following the Friday prayers at the mosques.

Last updated: 2:06pm, September 22 2011