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Posts tagged ‘Israeli West Bank barrier’

Palestinian Spokesman: ‘Arab States Will Never Accept Jewish State’.

Image: Palestinian Spokesman: 'Arab States Will Never Accept Jewish State'Palestinian women shout slogans during a protest against the resumption of peace talks with Israel on Jan. 14 in Gaza City.

By Elliot Jager

The top foreign policy spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, Riyadh al-Malki, told Radio Palestine that “The Arab states will never recognize the Jewish state,” Israel Radio reported.
According to al-Malki, Arab League foreign ministers told Secretary of State John Kerry in the course of weekend meetings in Paris that this was the united Arab stance.
Kerry has been trying to get support for a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel from the Arab foreign ministers, Arutz 7 reported.
The League of Arab States is comprised of 22 members all of whom are also constituents of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference — countries which officially identify themselves as Muslim.
The Arab position is that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state would waive the claim that Arab refugees from 1948, when Israel was created, and their descendants, now numbering roughly five million, should always have the right to live in Israel.
The long-standing Israeli position is that should a peace accord be signed Arab refugees ought to be resettled in the State of Palestine or in the surrounding Arab countries where they live.
In addition to Palestinian claims that their refugees be allowed to re-settle in Israel proper, other stumbling blocks to an accord include Palestinian insistence that there be no Israeli presence — civilian settlements or military outposts — in the strategic West Bank, and that east Jerusalem along with its surrounding neighborhoods be declared the capital of Palestine.

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Dead.

JERUSALEM — Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who transformed the region and was reviled by Arab foes, died on Saturday at the age of 85 and after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke.

The Sheba Medical Center that has been treating Sharon said last week that his health has been declining. Sharon had been suffered from failure vital organs including his kidneys shortly before his death.

The Associated Press reported that his son, Gilad Sharon, said: “He has gone. He went when he decided to go.”

Sharon’s nurse, Marina Lifschitz, said he had not suffered while lying comatose, though he had at times given basic responses to stimuli. She recalled at one point holding up a picture of his late wife, Lily, for him to view.”And suddenly I saw a tear simply rolling out of his eye. That is very difficult to forget,” Lifschitz told reporters.

A maverick in war and politics, Sharon reshaped the Middle East in a career marked by adventurism and disgrace, dramatic reversals and stunning rebounds.

“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.

“Arik loved his people, and his people loved him,” Peres said, using the nickname of Sharon, a famously burly and blunt figure with a prizefighter’s rolling gait.
“He knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
Officials said Sharon, who took power in 2001 soon after the start of a second Palestinian uprising that raged until 2005, would be given a state funeral.

One official said Sharon’s remains would lie in state in parliament in Jerusalem on Sunday. A memorial service will be held there on Monday morning, followed by an afternoon funeral near Sycamore Farm, Sharon’s residence in southern Israel.Among foreign dignitaries expected to attend are U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former British prime minister Tony Blair, the official said.

Loathed by many Arabs and a divisive figure within Israel, Sharon left his mark on the region as perhaps no other through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock decision to pull out of Gaza.
“The nation of Israel has today lost a dear man, a great leader and a bold warrior,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment on the death from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Sharon’s Likud party successor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been holding U.S.-sponsored peace talks.
But in Gaza, the Hamas Islamists whose political fortunes rose with the Israeli withdrawal savored Sharon’s demise.
“We have become more confident in victory with the departure of this tyrant,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zurhi, whose movement preaches the destruction of the Jewish state.
“Our people today feel extreme happiness at the death and departure of this criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile.”
A commander in the army from the birth of Israel in 1948, he went on to hold many of the top offices of state, surviving fierce debate over his role in refugee camp massacres in the 1982 Lebanon war to be elected prime minister in 2001.
Famously overweight, he suffered a stroke that put him into a coma in 2006, when he was at the height of his power, and died on Saturday without ever apparently regaining consciousness.
Some diplomats believed that had he remained in good health, he would have secured peace with the Palestinians after overcoming domestic critics to force through the withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region . . . I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land,” Sharon said in 2004, explaining his move.
But critics said the unilateralism he favored helped discredit diplomacy and embolden ideological hardliners.
As prime minister, Sharon presided over some of the most turbulent times in Israeli-Palestinian history, a Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000 and an Israeli military crackdown after peace talks collapsed. As Israel’s leader, he besieged his arch-nemesis Yasser Arafat with tanks after suicide bombers flooded Israel from the occupied West Bank.
Long a champion of Jewish settlement on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, Sharon, serving in 1998 as foreign minister, urged settlers in the West Bank to “run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours.”
He said the contested decision to quit the Gaza Strip, which pulled apart his Likud party and persuaded him to form a new political force, would enable Israel to strengthen its hold over “territory which is essential to our existence.”
It was a reference to the West Bank, where his government began the construction of a massive barrier during the Palestinian uprising. Israel called it a security measure – Palestinians condemned the project as a land grab.
Sharon dominated Israel to a degree not seen since the era of its founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
Like many native Israeli leaders, Sharon, born in British-mandated Palestine, grew up in a farming community. He later lived in a sprawling ranch in southern Israel, and was often photographed lumbering through its fields.
Sharon joined the pre-state Haganah Jewish underground at the age of 14.
Wounded as a young officer in the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, he went on to lead key commando units and crafted a policy of reprisals – even at the cost of innocent lives – for cross-border Palestinian guerrilla raids.
Along with a reputation in the military for recklessness and disobeying orders, Sharon was hailed for daring operations that brought victories on the battlefield. He retired a major-general.
“It was he who set out the principle that no one who attacked our troops or civilians would be immune, no matter where they were,” said ex-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai.
Passed over for chief-of-staff, Sharon left the military in the summer of 1973. Three months after he quit, he was back as a reservist-general, commanding troops that launched a counter-offensive that helped rout Egyptian forces in the Yom Kippur 1973 Middle East war.
A photo of Sharon in the desert, in battle fatigues and with his head bandaged, became an iconic image of the conflict.
He helped form the Likud party, which courted Israel’s underclass of Jews of Middle Eastern descent and rose to power in the 1977 election, ending the dominance of the “European” Labor Party.
Appointed agriculture minister, Sharon used that post and his chairmanship of a ministerial settlements committee to break ground on new settlements – helping to earn him the nickname “Bulldozer.”
As defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sharon masterminded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, one of Israel’s most divisive campaigns.
What started as a stab against Palestinian guerrillas on the border evolved into a murky and costly bid to install a government more friendly to Israel in Beirut.
Arab hatred of Sharon crested with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Israeli-allied Christian militiamen.

Sharon denied wrongdoing but was eventually forced to resign as defense chief in 1983 after an Israeli probe said he bore “personal responsibility” for not preventing the bloodshed.

Sharon described those findings as a “mark of Cain”, and many thought that his political career was finished. But after holding a series of cabinet posts, he was elected as the head of the Likud in 1999 and prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke five years later.
As a cabinet minister, he visited Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000, the third holiest place in Islam, which is also revered by Jews as the site of the Biblical Jewish Temples.
The visit, in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move that has never won international recognition, was widely seen as a spark for the second Palestinian uprising.
During the subsequent tsunami of violence, the respected Palestinian-American academic Edward Said called Sharon a “homicidal prime minister” who deployed “systematic barbarity” against the Palestinians throughout his career.
“Isn’t it clear that Sharon is bent not only on breaking the Palestinians but on trying to eliminate them as a people with national institutions?” Said wrote in The Nation newspaper in 2002, a year before his death.
Known in Israel by his popular nickname “Arik”, Sharon could charm with a grandfatherly glint in his eye and a jocular laugh. He could also flash disapproval with a cold, steely stare. He had a penchant for Broadway musicals and copious amounts of food.
Sharon was married twice. His first wife, Margalit, died in a car accident in 1962. They had one son, who was killed in 1967 when a friend accidentally shot him while playing with a rifle. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit’s sister, Lily, who died of cancer in 2000. They had two sons.
“Sharon was a mass of contradictions – a peerless cynic and a proven patriot, a man who built up the Likud and then walked out on it, who mixed up Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank while pulling out of Gaza,” said Uzi Benziman, author of “Sharon: An Israeli Caesar.”
He noted the varying theories about what motivated the Gaza withdrawal, including that it aimed to distract from corruption allegations at the time that dogged Sharon and his sons.
“Whatever the truth, it cannot be denied that Sharon’s legacy was to convey to Israelis that holding on to all of the (Palestinian) territories would not last,” Benziman said. “He was the last of the real leaders.”

© 2014 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

Population Swap Idea Angers Israel’s Arab Minority.

TAYBEH, Israel — Israel’s powerful and outspoken Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has enraged the country’s Arab minority by proposing that some of its towns and villages be handed over to a future Palestine in exchange for parts of the West Bank where Jewish settlers live.

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The proposal, rejected by both Palestinians and other Israeli leaders, nonetheless has deepened Arab fears that they are not welcome in the Jewish state and leaves them in the awkward position of insisting on staying Israeli.

They say that their solidarity with their Palestinian brethren does not mean they are disloyal to their own country and should not be treated as second-class citizens.

“I didn’t come to Israel, Israel came to me. . . . They can’t take away my rights,” said Abdul Rahman Haj Yahiya, 79, an eighth-generation resident of Taybeh. “If Israelis can identify with Jews around the world, why can’t I identify with Arabs too?”

A town like Taybeh, home to some 40,000 people and only a mile away from the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, likely would be a prime target under Lieberman’s plan.

Lieberman, a leading voice in Israel’s so-called nationalist camp, has long been a skeptic of peace efforts with the Palestinians and is a frequent critic of Israel’s Arab minority.

His latest proposal appears to be aimed at complicating Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts as much as it is at unnerving Israeli Arabs.

Israel’s Arabs make up about 20 percent of the country’s 8 million citizens. They descend from those who decided to stay in the country upon Israel’s establishment in 1948, in contrast to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven away.

While they freely identify with their Palestinian counterparts, there are also key differences. They have become fluent in Hebrew. Although they generally suffer from second-class status in Israel, they hold full citizenship rights and enjoy a higher standard of living and more civil liberties than in other Arab countries — a reality they say they are loath to swap for life under Palestinian rule.

At the same time, Arabs do not serve in the military like Jewish citizens. With many siding openly with the Palestinians — and a small number even charged with spying for Israel’s enemies — they have also drawn accusations of being a disloyal fifth column.

Lieberman’s hard-line nationalist party, Yisrael Beitenu, or “Israel is our Home,” has long called for aggressive action and pushed for legislation that would have required a loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state and stripping citizenship to those who refuse.

The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, but would accept minor land swaps to allow Israel to keep some Jewish settlements blocs. Lieberman unveiled his swap idea this week.

Lieberman said no one would be uprooted from their homes. Instead, the border would merely be adjusted to place Arab towns inside Palestinian territory. He also said he would not support any peace agreement brokered by Kerry that does not include his demand.

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most important political partner, Lieberman has enough sway to bring down the governing coalition, a scenario that would throw peace talks into disarray. Dovish opposition parties have said they would fill any void left by defecting hard-liners, though it remains unclear whether their support would be enough.

Lieberman’s plan has been roundly rejected by Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and even mainstream Israelis. It also faces many challenges under international law.

While there is a precedent for citizens being swapped between countries following World War II, the only way for it to happen today would require a mutual agreement between two sovereign nations, an endorsement from the international community and the agreement of the citizens themselves, said Emmanuel Gross, a legal expert at Haifa University.

“You can’t draw a border that harms your own citizens and it can’t be done unilaterally,” Gross said.

Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said the mere suggestion of such a plan reeked of racism and discrimination. “Citizens are not chess pieces to be moved around at will and this just heightens our sense of estrangement from the state,” he said.

Tibi, a Taybeh resident and former adviser to Yasser Arafat, said he has been assured by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the issue has not some up in peace talks and would be immediately rejected if it did.

Mohammad al-Madani, a member of Abbas’ Fatah party, said that while the movement represents Palestinians all over the world, Israeli Arabs were “a special case.”

“They are citizens of Israel and stayed in their historical home land and no one has the right to change their reality,” he said. “The right wing Israeli wants to get rid of those people just because they are Arabs.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres has rejected the plan, as has Interior Minister Gideon Saar, a stalwart in the ruling Likud Party, and others in Israel’s national camp. Neither Netanyahu nor Kerry has commented publicly on the plan.

In Taybeh, it is hard to find anyone open to the concept. The streets of this middle-class town are lined with shops and mosques just like any Arab village. Graffiti bearing the Palestinian flag can be found easily.

But highlighting its duality it is also deeply influenced by a proximity to nearby Jewish towns, whose residents frequent Taybeh’s stores, auto shops and restaurants.

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“You can’t uproot someone from their home. I was born here. I am Israeli,” said Nasser Saadat, 36. “We live with our Jewish neighbors, just like the Prophet Muhammad did. How can we go to another country?”

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.c

Israeli Civilian, Palestinian Girl Killed in Gaza Flare-Up.

GAZA CITY, Gaza — A Gaza sniper shot dead an Israeli civilian over the border Tuesday and Israel hit back with airstrikes on two Hamas training camps, which hospital officials said killed a Palestinian girl near one of the targets.

The Israeli man, who the military said was working on Israel’s security fence, was the first Israeli killed on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

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His death, which drew a swift threat of retaliation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came amid heightened tensions after two suspected Palestinian attacks — a bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday that caused no casualties and the wounding of an Israeli policeman in a stabbing on Monday.

Officials from Hamas, the Islamic group which rules Gaza, and witnesses said Israeli aircraft bombed the group’s training camps in Khan Younis and al-Bureij. Witnesses said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Gaza city.

Gaza hospital officials said a girl, whom they estimated was two-years-old, was killed by shrapnel during the Israeli strike on the Bureij facility.

She was standing with other family members outside their home near the camp and two of her brothers were wounded, the officials said.

Earlier, a Palestinian was killed in a separate incident in northern Gaza, hospital officials said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said he was handling an explosive device near the security fence and that soldiers fired at him after warnings.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the sniper attack, which followed a Palestinian rocket strike on southern Israel on Sunday that caused no casualties.

“This is an extremely grave incident and we will not ignore it,” said Netanyahu, who was visiting the southern town of Sderot, about a kilometer [half a mile] from the Gaza border, at the time of the shooting.

“Our policy has been to thwart [Palestinian attacks] and to respond [to them] forcefully, and that is what we will do in this case,” he said, referring to the shooting, in a statement released by his office.

However, since an eight-day war in November 2012, both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers have been wary of taking military action that could trigger widescale fighting.

No one was hurt in Sunday’s bomb blast on the bus, which had been evacuated after the explosives were spotted, and the wounded policeman was expected to recover.

But the incidents, which Israel blamed on Palestinian militants, fueled concerns of a new Palestinian uprising as peace talks show few signs of progress.

Hamas praised Sunday’s bus bombing — the first in Israel in more than a year — but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months. At least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the occupied territory since the U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood resumed in July after a three-year break.

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© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Israel Court Orders Inquest Into US Activist’s Shooting.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s supreme court Wednesday ordered a new investigation into the shooting and wounding by Israeli security forces of an American activist as he protested against the West Bank separation barrier in 2009, judicial sources said.

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The court gave the state and the police four months to investigate the type of munitions used by Israeli forces in the incident and the distance they were fired from.

Tristan Anderson‘s family filed an appeal with the supreme court after Israeli authorities closed the case in February 2010, saying that there was “no proof of criminal behavior on the part of the police.”

A tear gas canister hit Anderson in the head during a demonstration against the West Bank separation barrier on March 13, 2009 in the Palestinian village of Nilin.

He suffered serious brain damage that left him partially paralyzed. His parents and their lawyers welcomed the ruling, saying that the police investigation had been marred by “negligence.”

The neighboring villages of Bilin and Nilin, near Ramallah, host demonstrations every week against the separation barrier, which Israel says is intended to prevent attacks, and which Palestinians have named the “apartheid wall.”

The International Court of Justice ruled on July 9, 2004 that the construction of the wall was illegal and demanded it be dismantled, as has the U.N.General Assembly.

The wall’s proposed route will cover 712 kilometers (442 miles), of which nearly two thirds is incomplete and 85 percent of which lies inside the West Bank, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report published on the ninth anniversary of the ICJ ruling.

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The document said the barrier will isolate 9.4 percent of the West Bank, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

© AFP 2013

What if There Was a Boston Marathon Bombing Every Week?.

israelis take cover
Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, Nov. 15, 2012. (Nir Elias/Reuters)

I genuinely empathize with the victims of the Boston bombing. They were killed, maimed, injured and/or forever traumatized only because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As they gathered to compete in or watch the marathon underway, they were—like all terrorism victims—the epitome of innocent.

But imagine if this happened again next week at a pizzeria, killing 15 diners; and again a week later on a bus, killing 19 passengers. Then at a discotheque, killing 21 teens. Then at a church, killing 11 worshippers. And so on it goes, with a new bombing almost every week.

Israelis don’t have to imagine. They just have to remember. Between 1995 and 2005, each year saw an average of 14 suicide bombings, with 66 victims murdered. The year 2002 was the worst, with 47 bombings that slaughtered 238 people.

That’s almost one Boston bombing every week. Adjusted for population differences, Israel’s victims in 2002 amounted to the equivalent of three 9/11 tragedies in one year. And these bombing statistics don’t include all of the shootings, stabbings and other violent attacks by Palestinian extremists during those years.

Most Americans (and Europeans) who enjoy lives of far greater security can barely recall such attacks because they usually received only scant and perfunctory media coverage, if they were mentioned at all. A few particularly gruesome attacks (like the Netanya Passover bombing that killed 30 and injured 140) were prominently reported, but most attacks were barely and inconspicuously noted, and many smaller but horrific attacks went entirely unreported.

Of course, whenever Israel responded militarily to these attacks, it would be headline news. As Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Stephens noted in 2009, “Every Palestinian death receives somewhere in the order of 28 times the attention of every Chechen death.”

When Israel erected its West Bank security barrier, a nonviolent but extremely effective way to prevent Palestinian terrorism, that too was headline news. The fence was even brought before the International Court of Justice in 2004—unlike the terrorism that compelled it. Israel surely had other uses for the $2 billion spent to build the barrier, but the number of attacks and fatalities dropped so dramatically after its construction that few Israelis doubted its necessity.

Israel’s terrible experience with terrorism has forced it to develop relevant expertise, from more effective security and counterterrorism techniques to emergency medicine procedures that respond better to the mass casualties of terrorist attacks. In fact, Dr. Alasdair Conn, a top emergency doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, where most of the 183 victims of the Boston attack were treated, noted that Israelis helped train his team to respond to terror attacks.

But managing terrorism is hardly what Israelis want to be experts in; they’d much rather focus on other areas where they’ve excelled: high-tech, medical research, clean tech and other innovative pursuits that improve life rather than stop those trying to ruin it.

As a proud American who was in Manhattan on 9/11, I was horrified by our nation’s traumatic wake-up call to the evil of terrorism and the vulnerability of any open society—even the world’s only superpower. The Boston bombing—and the 24/7 coverage of it across virtually all media—was a disturbing reminder that we are all vulnerable; it was also a tiny (and hopefully temporary) taste of the far greater vulnerability experienced every day by Israel.

A democracy the size of New Jersey, Israel must contend not only with the continuous threat of Islamic terrorists launching cross-border or homegrown attacks, but also with about 200,000 missiles potentially aimed at it from virtually every direction and an Iran that regularly threatens to destroy it while developing the nuclear means to do so.

With so many constant threats, it’s a miracle Israelis can maintain any semblance of everyday sanity, much less win Nobel prizes and get more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any country after the USA and China. How do they do it?

If you talk to Israelis, their approach seems to be a proud and stubborn refusal to let terrorism change their lives and a determination to succeed despite the terrorists—thereby defying them. And that may provide some guidance or inspiration for Americans trying to get back to a sense of normal.

We quickly killed one Boston bomber and nabbed the other. We buried bin Laden in 2011. And we’re producing content, technology and ideas that are the envy of the world. Let’s keep it that way. Go USA.



Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a military thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat that also explores the impact of terrorism on ordinary people.

Israeli Security Breach Draws Little Attention.

Israel's Lachish region
Israel’s Lachish region

Last Independence Day, Israel Hayom photographer Ziv Koren and I toured Israel’s borders. We went to the Egyptian and Gaza Strip borders, as well as the Syrian and Lebanese borders, the crossings to Jordan and the West Bank separation fence in northern Samaria.

We saw the incredible investment Israel made, both in money (billions) and equipment (technology), to stop infiltration and reduce threats.

So when we got a phone call from farmers in Lachish about the numerous break-ins in their area, we were incredulous. But the stories were so troubling—and the statistics so dramatic—that we decided to drive there on Wednesday and see things for ourselves. To speak in cliches, what we saw was not a fence but a hole—a black hole.

Our talks with security forces revealed that everyone is aware of the problem, and every week the item appears on their desks at the Judea (Hebron) Brigade, which is in charge of the territory; at the Judea and Samaria Division; at Central Command and their counterparts in the Israel Police; at Border Police; and at Shin Bet.

Everyone knows just how big the hole is, the extent of the damage that has already been done and how troubling its future potential is. Just to clarify things, since the beginning of 2013, more than 20 terror cells in the West Bank were busted and their members arrested for planning to abduct Israelis. Had one of them decided on Wednesday to use one of the surrounding Palestinian villages as a launching point, nothing would have stood in their way of kidnapping a soldier at the Lachish training base or a civilian at any one of the nearby communities.

Despite the clear and present danger, nothing is happening to remedy the situation. Members of the security establishment talk about tactical operations, but the herders and farmers in the area can’t remember the last time they saw an Israel Defense Foces ambush in place, or even a patrol. They now take it upon themselves to defend the fence and secure all the cattle and every tractor.

Sound ridiculous? This is the day-to-day reality at the Lachish strip.

Even repair work on the breached fence hasn’t been carried out, making the barrier that was meant to stop terrorist attacks and thievery one big, inviting hole. One feels compelled to say that one day everyone will wake up when it’s too late, after a terrorist attack or abduction is carried out, yet still, we should hope that someone— the defense minister, public security minister, chief of general staff or police commissioner—will decide this very morning to act and do what’s necessary.

For the original article, visit


Churches condemn Israeli security barrier.

JERUSALEM (AP) — The heads of Catholic churches in the Holy Land are condemning the route ofIsrael’s security barrier near Bethlehem, saying it affects the livelihood of Christian families there.

The churches said in a statement that the barrier would affect the lives of 58 families who live off the land.

Israel began building the barrier last decade saying it was meant to keep out Palestinian attackers who crossed from the West Bank into Israel and blew themselves up among civilians. The barrier juts into some areas belonging to Palestinians who condemn it as a land grab.

An Israeli defense ministry official said the route will include entry points and large agricultural gates to enable access to the land on both sides of the fence. He said compensation will be paid toPalestinian land owners.


Associated Press

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