IDF Asked to Warn Drivers

Jewish rights group calls on soldiers to warn Jews who enter PA Arab areas after Israeli couple nearly enters PA village.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 6:09 PM

IDF checkpoint (file)
IDF checkpoint (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Jewish rights group Legal Forum for the Land of Israel is calling on the IDF to require soldiers to issue a warning to Israeli citizens to keep them from entering Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. The Forum warned that a lack of road signs at dangerous turnoffs in Judea and Samaria means Israelis could enter PA areas unintentionally and that if the soldiers at the checkpoints do not warn them, this could be disastrous.

“It is imperative that soldiers manning the checkpoints receive orders to warn Israelis that the road where they have reached the checkpost leads to the PA. Such orders may be essential in saving lives,” read a letter from the Legal Forum to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and senior District officers.

PA controlled areas are dangerous for Israelis. While Israelis from the extreme political left occasionally demonstrate alongside PA Arabs in the villages of Naalin and Bil'in, Israelis who enter such areas accidentally have been violently attacked and even murdered. Two Israeli reservists, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami, were sadistically murdered by a lynch mob in October 2000 when they entered Ramallah by mistake.

The NAVNGO company, a GPS provider, warned drivers last year not to follow their GPS devices when traveling in Judea and Samaria, out of concern that they could be directed to travel via an unsafe route, which is shorter mileage-wise, but goes through PA controlled areas.

Two weeks ago, an Israeli couple driving from Kedumim in Samaria to the coastal city of Netanya mistakenly entered a PA village. Residents misled them into driving further into the village, where they were ambushed by local youths, who stoned the car and attempted to prevent them from leaving.

The driver managed to drive the car out of danger and no passengers were injured, but the incident raised questions regarding IDF intervention – or lack thereof – in such cases. Soldiers at a checkpoint through which the couple had passed on their way into the village and who could have told them to turn back, argued that it was not their job to issue warnings.

The soldiers may have thought that the couple was planning to enter the PA village on purpose. Many Arab citizens of Israel travel regularly to PA areas, and some Jewish Israelis do so as well, although they are not supposed to do so.

The Legal Forum called on soldiers to issue a warning to drivers even if they may be entering PA-controlled territory on purpose. “Should an Israeli decide to drive into the PA, there may be no reason to prevent him from doing so. However, it seems that most Israelis entering the  PA do so by mistake, and most would doubtless prefer to avoid endangering themselves and their passengers.”

If you are not a Hebrew speaker and have difficulty communicating with soldiers in such a situation, you may want to use the Hebrew phrase "zeh mesookan sham?" ("is it dangerous there?").