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Daily Israel Report

Olmert Reduces Yesha Security to Fund Gaza Belt Protection

Olmert wants to reduce security in Yesha to finance a two-year promise to fortify Gaza Belt communities against rocket attacks.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/1/2008, 3:44 PM

Flash 90

The IDF has said that it intends to take away 14 security positions in Judea and Samaria in order to finance outgoing Prime Minister Olmert's proposal to complete reinforcement of Gaza Belt communities against rocket attacks. National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel said he fears that Yesha residents may have to pay the price of life.

 

"This is not just or smart and does not contribute to security," he responded. "Do not cut funds to those who are always are on the frontlines and are liable to pay the price…with their lives."

 

Pinchas Wallerstein, a director of The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, accused the government of abandoning its citizens. "Is our security worth less than those in the Gaza Belt?" he asked.
"Is our security worth less than those in the Gaza Belt?

 

The cuts will leave several regions without roving patrols that prevent thefts and create a deterrent against terrorist infiltrations.

 

The Gaza Belt refers to the communities, mostly kibbutzim and moshavim, near the Gaza area separation barrier. Arab terrorists have pounded the area, along with the nearby town of Sderot, with thousands of rockets and mortar shells since the breakout of the Oslo War in September 2000. The violence escalated following the refusal of then-Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat to accept almost all of Judea and Samaria as proposed by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

 

The government has rejected proposals to retaliate against the attacks with military force and instead has erected an early warning system that allows the civilian population 20 seconds to run to nearby bomb shelters.

 

Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have warned several times that "it only is matter of time" before the IDF conducts an offensive to stop the attacks. However, Hamas in the meantime has stockpiled advanced weapons and built a Hizbullah-type of underground city of tunnels that the IDF now warns will make an incursion much more costly than it would have been years ago.

 

Instead, Olmert has promised to fortify homes, but the program never was carried out. Following several petitions by Gaza Belt communities to the High Court, he plans to bring it to fruition by asking for approval at the next Cabinet meeting on Sunday, partially funded by reducing security in Judea and Samaria.

 

The government already has approved a fortification plan for homes within nearly three miles of the Gaza separation barrier, but the government wants to extend the range by approximately 700 feet in order to include more kibbutzim that have been under attack.