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Shin Bet Head: Israel Abandoning Jerusalem Neighborhoods

Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem more than two decades ago, but the government is leaving areas unguarded. Hamas is filling the vacuum.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/28/2008, 8:48 AM

Israel has abandoned several eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods within the separation barrier, leaving them without army or police patrols, according to Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Yuval Diskin.
Neighborhoods are being abandoned…and it leaves a vacuum where Hamas operates.

"Neighborhoods are being abandoned…and it leaves a vacuum where Hamas operates," he added. Smuggling of weapons has increased, and police find it more difficult to deploy forces in neighborhoods where the terrorist infrastructure has strengthened.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) pointed out that 20 percent of terrorist attacks in the past five years involved Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem. He explained that a dramatic change has occurred this year, raising a red flag through the direct involvement in terrorist attacks by Arabs who live within the separation barrier.

Three attacks this year that resulted in the deaths of 11 Jews were carried out by eastern Jerusalem Arabs who acted on their own, without any apparent ties to an organized terrorist movement. "It is extremely difficult to foresee and to prevent these types of attacks," Dichter noted.

He reiterated a view, becoming more acceptable among political leaders, that demolition of  the homes of families housing terrorists and expelling them from the city are the most effective means of preventing attacks. The Public Security Minister emphasized that such moves must be thoroughly justified because they face the danger of being challenged by international law as a violation of human rights.

The separation barrier has left large swaths of the capital cut off from the rest of the city, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his deputy Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon have favored surrendering Israeli sovereignty over the affected Jerusalem suburbs.