Palestinian protester on the street:
“Why did chicken cross the road? Because it was tear-gased”
Flying checkpoints of the IDF ring the village (name omitted for security purposes)
International journalist is refused entry, even with the flashing of an Israeli press card.
Ambulance and camera crews are blocked from entering. The scene is electric, the international presence which successfully dodged the roadblock lingers around.
“I have a feeling something bad is going to happen.”
The ambulance and cameras get through 15 uneasy minutes later.
“The cavalry of the weak arrives”
Splinter of the group moves to the central part of the street, flanked by a hill to the west where half of the IDF force is located. Arguing ensues over the starting point of the play. Soldiers instruct the group to move back, while the other party points to the top of the hill.
“Go where you usually are!”
Soldiers head back, so do the protesters. Original starting point is reached. IDF half way up the hill, villagers at the start of the road.
First rock is thrown. Less than a second after the projectile leaves the hand, two tear gas canisters volley from the hill on top of the crowd.
Soldiers advance along the main artery from the settlement in front, flanking force moves through the hills to the west. Rumors spread of a blockading force coming in from the rear. People prepare for the possibility of arrests. The army pushes through the center, firing volleys into houses and occupying a strategic garden overlooking one of the two road branches leading to the rear of the village
Palestinians split into two groups, guided by observation from the rooftops. Direct fire at protesters, few rounds of rubber bullets are let off (unconfirmed)
The new IDF doctrine is not evident. Conventional tactics are used, limited or no use of gardens and other advance paths are utilized. Advanced strategies of the IDF used in clearing the refugee camps in Gaza, which backfired in Lebanon in 2006, are not attempted in this scenario. Conventional tactics of movement and navigating the urban fabric are used. The show of force is featured much more strongly in occupying the main artery cutting through the village and pressing forwards, rather than moving more radically in line with the modern military thinking of the IDF, using houses and the built environment itself as movement channels. On the contrary, media attention would focus much more sharply on such operation. Strategy of avoiding arrests and intimidating the population without crossing the boundary of this interactive theatre is clear.
The army pulls back. Original position of status quo is reached.
Palestinians advance towards the settlement. Group splits into two.
Following more rock throwing, volleys are unleashed. Four or five projectiles rain from above at a time, combined with direct fire aimed at the protesters. Foreigners are targeted.
Ceremonial operation of Capture the Hill takes place. Advance is held at bay by the soldiers on top of the hill.
Army withdraws further. Protesters advance to the end of the road. Everyone holds where the main road ends, about a 100 meters from the IDF blockade and around 200 meters from the settlement itself.
“Yallah Shabab, Yallah!”
The leader encourages further advance, no one responds. With the view of the settlement, and its everyday activities carrying on, the army advances. Soldiers from the hill flank and attempt to cut off the protesters from the south west. A massive volley of tear gas disperses the Palestinians in the back.
Remainder of the protesters cut through back alleys to the east and regroup at the southern tip of the village. Army pauses while original positions are retaken by actors on both sides.
Status quo is reached again, energy fizzles out.
The alternative movement through the built fabric is utilized by the Palestinians much more strongly. Open doors policy allows swift movement in an out, where thresholds no longer exist.
Finale and The Cliffhanger
Sprinting assault of the flanking force on the hill. Projectiles fired into the main street from the force moving in from the settlement. Children take over the skirmish. Adults sit with gas masks in one hand and cigarettes in the other, look on and laugh occasionally. Both sides withdraw.
“See you next Friday!”
[An almost comical situation in a very serious environment. Without the discussion of whether such weekly protests are productive or counterproductive, this is the protest that happens every Friday (among many others in the West Bank). Conflicting reports are found afterwards, and as always, they’re incredibly biased depending who publishes them, or more importantly, where they’re published. This is an objective perspective.]