On Sunday, the IDF will begin removing the wall which protected the residents of Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood from terrorist gunfire and mortar shells. The wall was put up in 2001 when Gilo came under intense near-daily attacks from the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Beit Jalla, which had been handed over to the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat, as part of the Oslo Accords.
The IDF stated that the decision to remove the wall was preceded by a security assessment at Central Command, and “joint staff work by all of the professional elements” which determined that the move was a safe one.
Work on removing the wall is expected to take two weeks. In its course, traffic will be sealed off intermittently on HaAnafa, HaShayish, Margalit, Shoham and Achlama streets.
Gilo, in southern Jerusalem, is mentioned in the Bible. The modern neighborhood was established in 1971 on land liberated in the 1967 Six Day War. It grew steadily until 2001 and reached a population of 39,000. However, the punishment it suffered in the massive terror war often referred to as “The Oslo War” or “The Second Intifada” halted that growth.
During 2000 and 2001, there were about 100 incidents of gun and mortar fire at Gilo from Beit Jalla and El Hader. Several people were wounded, some seriously, and property was damaged. Residents lived in fear and placed sandbags in their windows and porches.
The concrete wall was put up to protect the neighborhood and the IDF mounted counterattacks against attacking Arab forces, deploying helicopter gunships, tanks and infantry.
These events, as well as the construction of nearby Har Homa, caused the population of Gilo to decline to about 32,000.