The Importance of Israel’s Security Fence

February 18, 2012  

After scores of suicide bombings and daily terrorist attacks against its civilians that have killed more than 850 people and wounded thousands more since September 2000, Israel’s unity government decided to construct a security fence near the northern part of the pre-1967 “Green Line” between Israel and the West Bank to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating into Israeli population centers. The project has had the overwhelming support of the Israeli public which sees the barrier as vital to their security.

There is actually nothing new about the construction of a security fence. Many other nations have fences to protect their borders (the United States is building one now to keep out illegal Mexican immigrants). Israel has similar barriers along its borders with Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. In fact, a fence already surrounds the Gaza Strip and not a single suicide bomber has managed to get across the Gaza barrier into Israel. Ironically, after condemning Israel’s barrier, the UN announced plans to build its own fence to improve security around its New York headquarters.

Israel is Forced to Act
The Palestinians committed themselves in the Oslo accords and in the road map to dismantle terrorist networks and confiscate illegal weapons. After more than 10 years of negotiations, and a mounting toll of Israeli civilian casualties, however, it became clear to the Israeli people that the Palestinian Authority (PA) made a strategic choice to use terror to achieve its aims and that something had to be done to protect the civilian population.

“It obliges us to establish a barrier wall which is the only thing that can minimize the infiltration of these male and female suicide bombers,” said Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who has emphasized that “the fence is not political, [and] is not a border.”

Some Israelis oppose the fence either because they fear it will constitute a recognition of the 1949 armistice line as a final border. Jews living in the West Bank, beyond the planned route of the fence, in particular, argue that they are now being left relatively unprotected and worry that they might be forced to relocate behind the fence if it does become a political border in the future.

Making Terrorism More Difficult
Before the construction of the fence, and in many places where it has not yet been completed, a terrorist need only walk across an invisible line to cross from the West Bank into Israel. No barriers of any kind exist, so it is easy to see how a barrier, no matter how imperfect, won’t at least make the terrorists’ job more difficult. Approximately 75 percent ofthe suicide bombers who attacked targets inside Israel came from across the border where the first phase of the fence was built.

During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003.

Since construction of the fence began, the number of attacks has declined by more than 90%. The number of Israelis murdered and wounded has decreased by more than 70% and 85%, respectively, after erection of the fence.

Even the Palestinian terrorists have addmitted the fence is a deterrent. On November 11, 2006, Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah said on Al-Manar TV the terrorist organizations had every intention of continuing suicide bombing attacks, but that their timing and the possibility of implementing them from the West Bank depended on other factors. “For example,” he said, “there is the separation fence, which is an obstacle to the resistance, and if it were not there the situation would be entirely different.”

The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed.

Other Benefits
The Green Line is crossed by numerous dirt roads and it is impossible to patrol it. Many Palestinians take advantage of these roads to come to work illegally in Israel or to get between parts of the Palestinian administered territories to avoid checkpoints. Some also cross to carry out terror operations and theft. Since 1994, Palestinians, sometimes in cooperation with Israeli middlemen, have stolen thousands of automobiles as well as farm machinery and animals.

Israelis living along the Green Line, both Jews and Arabs, favor the fence to prevent infiltration by suicide bombers and by thieves and vandals. In fact, the fence has caused a revolution in the daily life of some Israeli Arab towns because it has brought quiet, which has allowed a significant upsurge in economic activity.

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