Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika has appealed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an effort to maintain an IDF checkpoint near Shechem that has stopped dozens of terrorist attacks. Mesika warned the prime minister that his defense minister, Ehud Barak, is “irresponsible” and that his plans will lead to disaster.
Barak's decision to dismantle the Huwara checkpoint – one of the main checkpoints in Samaria – and the nearby Beit Furik checkpoint shows “a lack of even minimal responsibility. The security chaos will lead to the deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the 'green line,'” Mesika said.
Huwara was established in response to the many terrorist attacks in Israeli cities beginning in the 1990s. Over the past decade, soldiers have confiscated hundreds of guns, bombs, and other weapons at the checkpoint, and have directly prevented dozens of terrorist attacks.
As part of recent Israeli “good-will gestures” to the Palestinian Authority, the Huwara and Beit Furik checkpoint have been largely shut down. Soldiers conduct occasional random checks and respond to pinpoint threats, but otherwise do not inspect passing vehicles. Since the change in procedure, the number of weapons detected by soldiers has dropped dramatically.
The IDF is now rumored to be planning to shut down the checkpoint completely. Not only will they no longer station soldiers at the site, but also will remove the traffic island, lamp posts, the guard tower, and other infrastructure that made it possible for soldiers to inspect vehicles.
In December of 2009, terrorists murdered Rabbi Meir Chai of Shavei Shomron. The attackers, members of the PA security forces, were able to enter and exit Israeli territory with weapons in their car unhindered by security checkpoints.
In February of 2010, a PA resident murdered IDF soldier Ihab Khatib, a Druze-Israeli from Marar. The easing of restrictions allowed the armed killer to pass through the checkpoints in the Shechem region undetected.
In 2005, a 14 year old PA resident attempted to detonate a bomb vest at the Huwara checkpoint.
“We are warning you, we are crying out. Dozens of terrorists have been caught at these two checkpoints, and many dozens of bomb belts meant for Israel have been stopped,” Mesika said. “I hope this irresponsible step will not be put into effect. I call on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene, and to stop the Defense Minister's irresponsible plans."