JERUSALEM, Israel - While Israelis celebrated the rebirth of the nation and its many accomplishments on Tuesday, its Palestinian neighbors prepared to mark the Naqba (the catastrophe), bemoaning the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
For Jews and Bible-believing Christians, Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, is evidence of God's promise to regather the Jewish people and settle them again in their biblical inheritance. But for most of Israel's Arab neighbors, the Koran, not the Bible, is the source of reference.
Under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority -- Israel's so-called peace partner -- the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people is perceived as a disaster. If this year's observance is the same as it's been in the past, residents of P.A.-controlled cities and towns will burn the Israeli flag and chant anti-Israel slogans on Nakba day, all with official Palestinian approval.
Israeli security forces began beefing up their presence in Judea and Samaria -- the West Bank -- in the event demonstrations turn violent or spread to nearby Jewish communities. In Jerusalem, police have been placed on highest alert. Entrance to the Temple Mount for Friday prayers has been limited to Arabs with Israeli ID cards and men over 50.
On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz met with the head of the Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi. Gantz said he hoped the weekend would pass without serious incident, but he instructed commanders to prepare their troops for any number of worst-case scenarios.
Border Guards are also preparing for the possibility of mass marches, especially along the southern border with the Gaza Strip.
In March, pro-Palestinian activists launched Arabic-language Facebook pages urging "millions of subscribers" in surrounding countries to join a march to "Palestine" to coincide with the Nakba, where they would take part in a third intifada (armed uprising) against the Israeli "occupiers."
"After the intifada uprising of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, it is time for the Palestinian intifada…the Palestinian cause is our cause," the organizers wrote.
Abbas Zaki, a senior member of Fatah, told Israel Radio the P.A. "could not silence the Palestinian street after it saw the achievements of other people" in surrounding countries.