The haredi city of Modi’in Illit sits just over the Green Line, and over the past few weeks, has experienced a number of break-ins, with Arabs from nearby villages tearing holes in the city’s security fence – apparently with no response by IDF forces or Israel Police – and entering the city in order to steal from private homes. Finally, residents resolved to take action themselves, Kikar Hashabbat relates, and early on Tuesday morning, they succeeded in apprehending a number of infiltrators.
The first infiltrator was spotted at around three a.m., having entered via a hole in the security fence. A second Arab was located several hours later. They were both handed over to police, who arrested them.
Understandably, the phenomenon of an increased number of infiltrations has aroused a good deal of fear among the city’s residents, who responded enthusiastically to the establishment of Hashomrim, a volunteer patrol force comprised of young men who are all residents of the city itself.
One of Hashomrim’s volunteers related: “We’re happy that Hashomrim now exists, and we’re determined to do our job properly.” However, he stressed that “although up until now, those Arabs who have broken into the city undoubtedly came to steal from the residents, they could equally have been terrorists planning nationalistic attacks. In fact, several have been armed with tear gas canisters, and there have also been reports of infiltrators armed with knives, though that hasn’t been confirmed.”
He noted that, “The response of residents here has been incredibly supportive. After several months of break-ins, about eight or nine such incidents, we realized that we would have to take matters into our own hands, as there had been no IDF or police response to people entering the city via holes in the security fence. We held a number of meetings with residents and local officials, and presented the entire picture. At first, the municipality wasn’t entirely on-board but after a few weeks we straightened things out with them and now they’re doing all they can to support us, to make sure we get the equipment we need to strengthen the organization.”
How does Hashomrim operate? “We man lookout posts, and conceal ourselves while waiting for the Arabs to appear. The first person to spot an infiltrator updates the other volunteers, and then we wait for them to approach whichever residential building he’s heading for, in order to surround him. Meanwhile, other volunteers turn up, ready to take action, even though none of us have weapons – all we have are our bare hands.
“At around three o’clock on Tuesday morning, we spotted an infiltrator who entered via a hole in the security fence, and entered the city with no difficulty whatsoever. We managed to apprehend him, and then, a few hours later, there was another one.”
A police statement noted that: “Police forces operating at enhanced strength against attempts to break into the city of Modi’in Illit heard cries from a private yard. A police unit sent to the scene located a Palestinian suspect in the yard and arrested him.
“A short while later, another report was received of a Palestinian suspect who had been apprehended by a number of local residents. Police forces who arrived at the scene identified the suspect who was wounded and he was arrested and taken to hospital for treatment.”