Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Adar 5761 - March 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Army and Police Take Steps to Control Violence

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The fighting has not let up as Ariel Sharon puts together his new government. Senior Police commanders decided at an emergency meeting after Sunday's Netanya suicide-bombing on ways to foil future terrorist attacks inside Israel.

The main police step announced is an attempt to locate Palestinians living illegally within the Green Line. In practice, the police plan to "continue with police activities to locate Palestinians illegally staying in Israel by concentrating on those who enable them to stay inside Israel," is a policy that has never lasted for long, even though it was tried before. The security services estimate about 30,000 Palestinians reside illegally in Israel.

The IDF is also closing in on Palestinian Authority territory, mainly in Gaza, as a tactical measure to provide better security to its forces and Jewish residents, a senior IDF officer said yesterday. The move also has strategic value of showing the Palestinians that there is a territorial price for continuing the conflict, he said.

The "territorial assets," as he called them, are mainly along the approach roads to the three blocs of Jewish settlements in Gaza.

The IDF is promising to help the already severely stretched police forces by intensifying patrols along the Green Line and in urban centers and by having military patrols start covering areas inside the territories along the Green Line, as well.

But the IDF says it is skeptical about such activities's effectiveness and admits that such patrols will mainly stop Palestinians trying to cross into Israel in search of work; a terrorist determined to cross will succeed.

Many officers feel that IDF involvement in providing added security is an expensive plan, whose dividends are not guaranteed.

Though Barak said in his farewell address that abandoning isolated settlements should be an Israeli step toward peace, the IDF is against evacuating any Israeli-held territory or difficult-to-defend settlement in the Gaza Strip at this time, since the Palestinians would interpret this as a victory. "It's enough to see how they saw the withdrawal from Lebanon," said a senior IDF official.

He said, however, that if the Palestinian Authority tried to "conquer" Netzarim using military force or thousands of civilians to march there, he might recommend temporary evacuation of the children. However, he does not think the Palestinians are capable of an attack of those proportions.

The Palestinians have taken steps to improve their defenses to block any Israeli move on their areas.

An internal debate is raging inside the Palestinian Authority, and even inside Hamas, if now is the right time for terrorist bombings inside the Green Line. Some Palestinians are of the opinion that the new government should be given a chance to prove itself, while others believe the Sharon government should be greeted with a wave of bombings.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have introduced a number of new weapons, including sniper rifles, rifle grenades, and homemade 81 mm. mortars. The army believes there is a fledgling arms industry in the Gaza Strip. Nonetheless, there is a growing shortage of weapons, and the various Palestinian groups have resorted to stealing ammunition from each other.

The IDF also believes the Palestinians are trying to tap into Israeli communications networks, and trying to listen in on cellular phones in the hands of officers and soldiers.

The IDF, and the navy, too, has not succeeded in foiling even one attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Much of the weapons and materiel is being smuggled in through tunnels dug from Egypt. The IDF is using specially designed drills to try to locate the tunnels, but the soldiers are exposed to heavy Palestinian sniper fire. One soldier has already been killed guarding the drilling unit.

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been monitoring IDF transmissions and have become quite sophisticated in their attacks lately. The life-size doll tossed on the border fence last week was a sophisticated trap aimed at luring IDF soldiers to a booby- trapped field.

Knowing the IDF is monitoring their communications, the Palestinians repeatedly spoke of a bomber who was wounded, hoping to draw IDF sappers into the trap. IDF bulldozers eventually destroyed the doll and neutralized the surrounding bombs without mishap.

Besides the political cost, the military cost of the intifadah is estimated to run into billions of shekels. The IDF is already planning to ask for as much as NIS 4 billion more in its annual budget -- and this does not include safeguarding the Green Line.

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