Members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) won't be enjoying too much time off as is normally the case during Passover. The eyebrow-raising move to cancel vacation and order all army officials to be on alert comes as tensions in the Middle East are at a fever-pitch.
According to YNetNews, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has ordered that all IDF units cancel the break that is traditionally granted. Every unit will reportedly operate to its full and normal capacity throughout Passover.
This, of course, will require that thousands of soldiers who typically take a break during the holiday will be forced to report for duty -- for at least a portion of it, anyway. In the end, soldiers will need to divide vacation days among themselves in order to ensure that all military units are at optimal strength.
YNetNews continues, explaining the long-time tradition that will be broken during this year's Passover:
Over the years, an army-wide break during Passover became a tradition followed by all major military units, including the Air Force, Navy and intelligence corps. The IDF's headquarters in Tel Aviv is also traditionally deserted during the holiday.
With tensions so high in the region, it's no surprise that many have wondered if the decision to remain fully operational is indicative of a covert military plan of action. IDF officials, though, have dismissed such claims, with officials saying that Gantz simply wasn't supportive of the notion that an army-wide vacation was necessary during the holiday season.
Trend has more about the questions surrounding this intriguing scenario:
The sudden decision, only a week before the holidays, comes amid heightened rumors of an Israeli strike on Iran, and tensions ahead of the Palestinian Land Day. [...]
The IDF is beefing up security in Israel and the West Bank, ahead of the Palestinian Land Day on Friday, which will be marked by rallies in Israel to commemorate the deaths of six Israeli Arabs protesting Israeli government land policies.
Coinciding with Land Day is the Global March to Jerusalem, which urges pro-Palestinian activists to try to break Israel's fences from all its borders, in order to infiltrate the country and march into Jerusalem.
The Blaze told you last week that controversial American Rev. Jeremiah Wright (President Barack Obama's former pastor) is allegedly backing the "March on Jerusalem." The event aims, as stated by Trend and our past coverage, to end what Palestinians and their enthusiasts see as Israeli occupation.
Here's a video promoting the event:
Haaretz also claims that Israel is currently making preparations to deal with Land Day demonstrations. The military has apparently "finalized its instructions concerning circumstances under which soldiers can open fire along the borders and in the territories."
While fears over an Iranian strike are in the minds of some leaders and citizens, alike, it's possible that Israel is merely attempting to prepare for intense protests that are scheduled to unfold on its borders in the coming days and weeks. Rather than toning down military power, leaders may simply be playing it safe to manage unrest if and when it occurs.
Passover begins on the evening of April 6 and ends on the evening of April 14. This is the first time in many years that the vacation has been cancelled.