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´Security´ Fence Increases Terror Threat

The so-called security fence actually will endanger Israel, leaving a 65-kilometer (40-mile) gap while impeding the IDF from retaliating to terrorist attacks, according to security officials.
First Publish: 6/18/2005, 11:37 PM / Last Update: 6/17/2005, 1:48 PM

"The logic behind the fence is to protect Jews in Be'er Sheva and the center of the country, but it leaves every community in Yesha a concentrated target for terrorists," charged Ephraim Hebbs, manager of the Southern Hevron Hills Regional Council.

Military officials have reported that Arabs throughout Samaria and Judea are stockpiling rockets and mortar shells. Completion of the fence will be accompanied by more reliance by the Israeli government on the PA, restricting free IDF movement, one veteran Yesha security officer said. Lack of IDF mobility will make it almost impossible to know the source of mortar and rocket attacks.

The fence also will give the PA de facto possession of vacant government land, which is most of the area in Judea and Samaria, he added.

The 225-kilometer-long security fence [the red line on the map above] along western Yesha will leave the eastern part of Israel vulnerable to terrorists who don't mind taking the long way around.

The security barrier south of Jerusalem protects Israel only on three sides, leaving the entire Dead Sea area and Arad open and unguarded, according to government maps. The northern and southern sides of the fence end on the road that stretches from Jerusalem to Kiryat Arba and Arad, leaving the Judean Desert as free passage for Arab terrorists to launch attacks from Beersheba to Tel Aviv, Haifa and to the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon border.

The western side of the "security fence" runs along the old 1949-1967 armistice line east of the coastal plain. The northern side veers to the main road, which runs from the south of Jerusalem to the armistice line several miles northwest of Arad, where the southern side of the fence stops.

The open area to the east is in the Judean Desert and includes rugged terrain but is familiar territory for nomadic Bedouins, who have increasingly become a source for arms smuggling.

"They [Arabs] have no problem in traveling through the area. There already are dirt roads, and we have seen increased traffic. They easily can cross to the east and then south to Arad," according to Dan Kapach, head of security for the Hebron Hills Regional Council.

A new army unit has been patrolling the area with all-terrain vehicles manned by expert drivers. The unit's activities are kept secret but it is known that the army was shocked at the amount and sophistication of weapons it has captured from Bedouin smugglers. One soldier said the problem is that there is no way to know the amount of arms that have reached Arabs in the area, which includes Hevron.