The army has announced the removal of two more anti-terror checkpoints in Judea and Samaria. It has also decided to ban MachsomWatch women from monitoring soldiers’ behavior at checkpoints around Shechem (Nablus).
The decisions were made by IDF Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, Commanding Officer of the Central Region, apparently at the behest of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said in response, "The blood of those Jews killed as a result of this decision will be on Barak's head."
Gen. Shamni also said that more entry permits would be issued to Arab businessmen from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in order to bolster the PA economy.
A soldier was killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint after he did not closely inspect him - having been intimidated by MachsomWatch women two days earlier when he checked a suspicious Arab.
The purpose of the checkpoints is to impede the mobility of terrorists and weapons inside Judea and Samaria. The drive-by murders of dozens of Jews in the past were perpetrated by terrorists who were able to easily drive home afterwards on checkpoint-free roads without fear of being caught.
The two checkpoints to be removed are located near Rimonim, east of Ramallah, and near Bir Zeit, just north of Ramallah. The Rimonim checkpoint was not considered a “serious” one and was only intermittently manned by two soldiers.
Just yesterday (Tuesday), a soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist at the Hawara checkpoint, near Itamar in the Shomron (Samaria). The soldier was lightly wounded and was treated on the scene.
MachsomWatch Women are Incensed
The left-wing MachsomWatch organization – Machsom means “checkpoint” in Hebrew – was incensed at the decision to prevent its members from arriving at the Shechem checkpoints. Chana Barak, one of the leaders of the organization, was interviewed on Army Radio and expressed her indignation at the decision. “Our job is simply to tell the country, and the army as well, what goes on here,” she said. “We are not against the army; we have sons and grandsons who are soldiers.”
The Other Side
No MachsomWatch opponent was interviewed to present an alternative view and the following incidents:
Two weeks ago, a MachsomWatch woman climbed the security fence to receive a package from an Arab. When she saw the soldiers, she reportedly threw the package back over the fence and fled the scene.
In September 2006, parents of a soldier filed a complaint with the IDF against a checkpoint commander, saying he had caved in to MachsomWatch women’s pressure and issued an "illegal order that endangered soldiers and citizens." The incident occurred when a suspiciously-dressed Arab man arrived at a checkpoint, standing out by wearing a suit on a hot day. The soldiers wished to have him lift his shirt, in accordance with procedure, to prove he was not wearing an explosives vest. MachsomWatch women, however, speaking by phone to the commander, convinced him to order his soldiers not to do so. "He is a respectable man; you can see that he's OK," the women said.
Possibly the most serious incident occurred when a soldier was killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint after he did not closely inspect him. The soldier's father later related that his son, just two days before, had complained that left-wing women had harassed him and other soldiers when they inspected a suspicious Arab. The father said that his son had been "intimidated" by the women's criticism.
Rika Mostov, a volunteer for a pro-Israel women's group formed to counter MachsomWatch, says she was at the northern-Jerusalem Kalandia checkpoint where a soldier was murdered by an Arab assailant who slashed his neck. "While this soldier was dying, a woman from MachsomWatch came and said he deserves to die because he shouldn't be here," Mostov said.
MK Aryeh Eldad's Campaign
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) has said that the women are "a pure security risk" and has waged a campaign to have the Defense Minister stop their activity. Eldad says the MachsomWatch women speak to Arabs detained at the checkpoints for investigation and report their names to MachsomWatch headquarters. "That report," he says "might go back to Nablus or Jenin, and if the terrorists' commanders find out in real time that their men have been arrested, they could run and hide.”