In the latest in a series of decisions making Jewish life in Judea and Samaria more difficult, the army is leaving 40 towns.
The IDF is transferring the responsibility for protecting 40 Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) to private firms, and withdrawing protection altogether from ten others. The Yesha Council's Security Officer, Shlomo Vaknin, says, "The government is privatizing our security."
Recent decisions affecting the personal and communal safety in Yesha towns include the following:
- Cancellation of Mivtzar program, in which a local emergency response team is trained by the army, to be utilized in case of a terrorist infiltration or other such crisis. "Mivtzar was the ideal response to the threat on our towns," Vaknin explains. "The fighters know the area, are well-trained, and their presence here was permanent and binding. The towns near Gaza and in the north want to copy this program - yet here the army is cancelling it..."
- Collection of weapons from the communities. The army explains that weapons had been stolen from residents, and that any trained resident who wishes to obtain a gun can do so.
- Cancellation of subsidies for enforcing private cars' windows from rock attacks.
- Withdrawal of National Service girls from security headquarters in the towns.
- Cancellation of budgeted funding for protecting school buses for special-education and handicapped children against shooting attacks. "We will not be able to open the school year next year if a solution is not found," Vaknin warns.
- Cancellation of budgeted funding for running security vehicles. "Some towns simply cannot use their security vehicles anymore," Vaknin says.
In addition, many checkpoints at which Arabs are checked for - and often found to be carrying - weapons have been removed. Furthermore, permission has been granted for more Arab policemen to bear arms in PA-controlled cities, and some 20 armored vehicles will be transferred to PA control in the near future.
Eldad: The Policy is to Push Jews Out of Yesha
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) feels that the decisions are coordinated and purposeful. "The non-official [government] policy," he told IsraelNationalRadio, "is to dry up the communities, to make the security situation deteriorate, and to push the settlers out of Judea and Samaria - either by trying to tempt them with compensation, or just by making the living there very difficult, in terms of education, transportation, development, and lack of permission to build or expand homes and neighborhoods."
The latest decision affects 40 towns categorized as "Special Security Situation Towns." Though considered to be the most threatened communities in Yesha, the army plans to give security control there over to private security firms. Among the affected towns are Kiryat Arba, Telem, Adura, and Mevo Dotan. The army claims that the soldiers who have traditionally been posted there - generally in their first weeks of basic training - are not as well-trained as private companies' security guards.
In addition, ten towns currently on the "Israeli" side of the partition wall/fence - such as Shaked and Hinanit in the Shomron - will have their protection removed altogether. The thinking is that the wall provides sufficient protection against terrorist infiltrations.
Vaknin totally disagrees: "The wall doesn't stop the terrorists, who get through either by dressing as day-workers or by infiltrating at night."