Prayer demonstration on Alon Road
Prayer demonstration on Alon RoadHaim Yakobi

Dozens of residents from the Binyamin region held a prayer service and demonstration on Tuesday morning in protest at the significant increase in terrorist incidents along the Alon Road, calling on the security establishment to restore quiet to the area.

Haim Yakobi, a member of the stand-by security unit in the community of Kida in the Shilo region, organized the protest, and told reporters that the decision was made to hold a prayer demonstration following a string of terrorist incidents that only due to miracles did not end with loss of lives.

“Hundreds of families live here, between the Alon Road and the area around Givat Harel,” he says. “They travel regularly along the Alon Road, and many of the recent incidents have taken place along one specific section of the road, between the Gideon junction and Kochav Hashachar, near the quarry and further along toward the village of al-Wa'air, whose residents have attempted several bomb attacks in recent years. Recently, things have become much worse in this area.”

He relates that, “It began with throwing stones and rocks, as well as Molotov cocktails. Then they started setting fire to car tires and placing old tank shells they found inside, or connecting them to gas canisters. Incidents like these happen every single week. If one of these makeshift devices explodes as a car is passing by, it could easily kill people. But there is no official response to any of this. The army doesn’t respond, and the media doesn’t cover any of it.”

Yakobi stresses that he doesn’t blame individual IDF soldiers “who are put to shame by these orders that they have to obey – orders that come from the political echelon. It’s the politicians who should be altering their perspective here.”

In recent days, a particularly serious event occurred that only heighten the residents’ concerns: “A few days ago, we discovered an explosive device that was supposed to go off and trigger other devices to go off as well. This device was placed around ten meters from the road. And I want to emphasize that this a road that the IDF uses in order to reach the villages where the stone-throwers originate, to hunt them down and deal with them.

“It was basically an ambush for soldiers who could be expected to pass,” he describes. “The explosion could have penetrated a jeep or even an APC, causing many deaths. Soldiers on foot patrol discovered the devices, averting what could have been a major tragedy. But even though it was averted, it should be dealt with as severely as if the devices had gone off,” he insists. “The army, and the government, should be treating incidents like these in the same manner as they treat incidents like the bombing of the school bus in Kfar Darom, not like ‘something that might have happened but didn’t, and life just goes on.’”

Yakobi also refers to the way the security establishment treats the residents of Kumi Ori following incidents that occurred there, presumably committed by Jewish residents; the entire area was placed under military closure order, as a form of collective punishment. “Compare that to how an Arab village is treated, even when every single day, several of its residents try to kill us and already succeeded in killing Shuli Har Melech and Malachi Rozenfeld. Nothing happens to them – they continue driving on the roads and working in the area undisturbed.”

He adds that, “Yesterday morning, we found another container of explosives that wasn’t discovered the day before. These are powerful explosives that could easily blow up a passing car or even a military vehicle. Because of the lack of response, they’re not afraid to keep trying such things. Even in Psagot, they’re starting to copy the methods being employed here, which is a clear sign of how weak they perceive the IDF as being.”

Dozens of residents from a number of communities attended the prayer demonstration in order to send the government a clear message that action must be taken by the IDF here. The demonstration was held opposite the entrance to one of the local Arab villages. “They should be locking down these villages, as they used to do in the past,” Yakobi says. “The problem is that they only ever do anything if a terrorist attack succeeds, and people are injured or killed. If no one’s killed, they just continue as if nothing happened. But we should be responding to every single incident as if it had succeeded and caused fatalities. That’s the only way to deal with this situation.”

Asked to summarize the residents’ demands, Yakobi says: “We have just two demands. One: To create deterrence and to punish the perpetrators, which will decrease their motivation to continue trying to kill us. Two: To create an IDF presence in the entire region, so that terrorists simply won’t be able to leave their villages to carry out terrorist attacks, or to build entire weapons factories to produce these devices that could lead to dozens of deaths.”