The IDF, on orders from the Olmert government, removed 10 manned checkpoints in the Binyamin region and Samaria Thursday evening. The roadblocks were taken down near Ramallah, Shechem, Tal Karem and Kalkilya.
Officials explained that the roadblocks were removed as part of a series of “goodwill gestures” to the Palestinian Authority.
Ostensibly under US pressure, Israel recently agreed to remove dozens of checkpoints and roadblocks in Judea and Samaria in order to make travel easier for local Arabs. In return, the PA said it would try to stop terrorism.
Daily attacks continue on roads in Judea and Samaria – Jewish resident say as a result of previous decision to remove roadblocks and open up bypass roads to PA Arabs. The IDF reports daily findings of weapons and explosives at security checkpoints across Judea and Samaria as well.
Goodwill Not Accepted
A Palestinian Authority official quoted in Yediot Acharonot Froday accused IDF officials of fabricating reports regarding the removal of the checkpoints. “The number of checkpoints the IDF removed is zero,” the man claimed. “The Israelis are raising the bar of lies and fraud.” In the eyes of the Fatah-run PA, Israel has made no significant changes in the past several months, he added.
Other PA sources confirmed that two major checkpoints around Jericho were removed and that several dirt roadblocks were flattened and abandoned as well.
The manned dirt roadblocks generally are located between particularly hostile villages and major roads used by Jewish motorists. Residents of the villages use alternate routes, such as driving to the nearest major PA city and getting on a highway from there. The dirt mounds were conceived as a way of preventing attackers in Israeli-controlled Area B from fleeing after an attack to PA-controlled Area A territory – as defined in the Oslo Accords.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not praise the move. She instead called for the removal of 50 such roadblocks and said General William Fraser, whose job is to monitor the implementation of the Road Map plan, would “follow up on the specifics and will make certain that in fact there are 50 and that they are going to be removed.”
During the press conference in Jerusalem, Rice said that "General William Fraser will be following up on the specifics and will be making certain that in fact that are 50 [roadblocks] and that they are being removed, that in fact they have some impact on the access and movement."
More Goodwill Gestures
Other unilateral Israeli moves to assist the constituency-lacking Fatah include the authorization of up to 8,000 new homes for a new PA Arab settlement in the Binyamin region; providing Fatah with armored vehicles from Russia; the deployment of PA police despite their involvement in recent fatal attacks; the removal of the Rimonim security checkpoint and the upgrading of facilities at other checkpoints, such as Hawara, south of Shechem.
Terrorist attacks have continued unabated.