Rerouting of Defense Barrier Leaves Israel’s Heartland Unprotected
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The fateful June 30 judgment by Israeli High Court Justices Aharon Barak, Mishael Heshin and Eliahu Matza, that saving Palestinians from hardship must take precedence over saving Israeli lives, foredoomed to failure the security barrier’s efficacy in separating Palestinian terrorists from their chosen targets in the most heavily populated parts of Israel.
The alacrity of prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz to comply with this ruling – as though it were a judgment from heaven – has stamped Israel’s four-and-a-half year conflict against Palestinian terrorism with the mark of its government’s weakness.
A cursory examination of the map attached to this article betrays the extent to which the Sharon government has botched the entire defense barrier project. The map shows the revised route as approved by Mofaz Tuesday night for presentation to the prime minister’s office Wednesday, July 28. }
Ignoring the extensive population fluctuations since 1967, the route has been dragged closer to the old Green Line. The barrier starting from Elkana north of Trans-Shomron Highway 5 now turns west to skirt the eastern outskirts of Rosh Ha’Ayin and wind south along the Rosh Ha-Ayin-Ben Shemen Highway 444. From Ben Shemen, the fence turns east up to Maccabim.
No barrier is allowed to protect the next 8 kilometers of Highway 443 from Maccabim to Givat Zeev on the western fringe of Jerusalem, despite its proximity toRamallah. The IDF promises to “secure” the road by other means.
In the Jerusalem district, the fence will circumvent the houses and lands of the Palestinian villages of Bidou (opposite the Jewish suburb of Har Adar) and Beit Iqsa. The latter abuts on the Jerusalem suburb of Ramot and the western edge of Mevassaret Zion. The same village is also situated in strategic command of the Motza-Sakharov Junction section at the Jerusalem end of the main Highway 1 from Tel Aviv.
Palestinian terrorists will therefore retain unimpeded access to the following key locations in central Israel:
The Rosh Ha’Ayin conurbation (30 km northeast of Tel Aviv) south of Highway 5; the residential-industrial block of Shoham, Elad, and Beit Arie, as well as Ben Gurion international airport, Israel Air Industries and the urban center of Modi’in that depend on Highway 444, plus the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway 443.
All the locations on this list will remain dangerously unprotected against – and within range of -Palestinian mortars and Qassam missiles, as well as suicide bombers. So too will the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway 1.
Should West Bank Palestinians decided to launch simultaneous barrages against the segments of Highways 443 and 1 under their guns, they can cut Jerusalem off from the rest of the country, leaving it dependent on the old, narrow, winding 395 route through Ain Karem.
One could shrug off these perils and say: leave it all to the Israeli army to take care of, were it not for two fresh developments.
1. Israeli forces deployed more than a month in the northern Gaza Strip, focusing on Beit Hanoun, are yet unable to stamp out the Palestinian Qassam missile offensive against southern Israel. The fact of the matter is that no army in the world today, even US forces in Baghdad, are capable of totally halting missile and mortar attacks carried out by small, swiftly moving teams who keep their weapons hidden at home.
Official Israeli releases catalogue the missile attacks directed against the western Negev to the east of the Gaza Strip. They omit mention of the missiles the Palestinians shoot north in the direction of the Ashkelon power station. So far, the Palestinian missile launchers have shot wide of this target, but their first hit could put out the lights in large parts of Israel.
2. The current power struggle in the Palestinian leadership is misrepresented as a conflict between Arafat at the head of a war-and-terror faction and peace-loving reformists. Israeli spokesmen refrain from pointing out that the opposition fighting Arafat and his corrupt ways wants control over Palestinian institutions, but certainly not for the sake of ending the war against Israel. Quite the reverse; Arafat’s foes are as determined as he to continue their terror campaign against the Jewish state, only they believe that reformed Palestinian security forces in their hands would wage this war to greater effect.
By failing to expose the real objectives of Palestinian anti-Arafat, pro-reform dissidents as regards Israel and agreeing to reduce the defense barrier’s usefulness as a shield, the Sharon government is playing into inimical Palestinian hands. Regardless of who comes out on top of the Palestinian leadership conflict, the IDF will be left with the tough task of defending the almost indefensible.