IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kovahi warned Wednesday Israel could soon face violent unrest in the West Bank, which could easily spread to Gaza, as the army preps for possible violence in response to the government’s plans to begin annexing lands claimed by the Palestinians.
Speaking at a military exercise in the north, Kohavi did not mention the controversial plan by name, but told soldiers they may soon need to shift their attention toward the West Bank should predictions of fighting in reaction to the move prove true.
“You can find yourself in a few weeks in the Judea and Samaria area because of riots and terror,” he was quoted saying in an IDF statement, using the biblical names of the West Bank.
“The upcoming events can develop into fighting in Gaza,” he added, predicting that months of calm with the normally tense enclave could return to intense fighting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month, a move stridently opposed by the Palestinians and much of the international community.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday signaled he could back unilateral annexation of West Bank lands, citing persistent refusals by the Palestinians to reach a deal with Israel, while reiterating his demand that the move not endanger Israel’s existing peace agreements.
“We won’t continue to wait for the Palestinians. If they say no forever to everything, then we’ll be forced to move forward without them,” Gantz said in a briefing to military reporters. He described the Palestinians’ ongoing rejectionism as their “deep shit” and said Israel would not get dragged into it.
However, he didn’t specify a date for when he would support a unilateral move or whether he would back starting the annexation process next week, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged to do.
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