Sunday, October 10, 2010

(IDF) Improved Security Situation Leads To Decrease In Number Of Checkpoints In The West Bank

"Following the Palestinian initiated violence some 10 years ago, the IDF established checkpoints throughout the West Bank. These checkpoints were intended to stem the flow of weapons and terrorist activity which were rampant at the time. Checkpoints consist of a series of barriers at which passing individuals are screened and checked for weapons or weapons-making material, and are manned by IDF soldiers or Border Patrol soldiers. The presence of checkpoints has prevented countless terror attacks and has proven to save lives, revealing weapons such as explosive belts, mortars, grenades, bomb-making materials, guns, knives—many of them strapped on very young Palestinian children. The system of checkpoints was a major factor in the decline of violence and terrorist activity during the Second Intifada. During the Intifada period, many of the weapons uncovered at checkpoints were explosive devices, which were often found on a daily basis. Today, by contrast, knives are the primary weapons found by soldiers at checkpoints.

Due to a dramatic improvement in the security situation in the West Bank, the number of manned checkpoints has decreased from 41 in July 2008, to 14 as of October 2010.

The reasons for the improved security situation in recent years are threefold: First, IDF counter-terrorism operations in the Central Command enable the IDF to preemptively prevent terrorist attacks from being implemented against Israeli targets. Based on intelligence superiority and due to professional capabilities to carry out pinpoint missions, the IDF thwart terrorist efforts on a daily basis. Second, construction of the security fence impedes infiltration of terrorist factions into Israel. The security barrier is almost sixty percent complete and is a preventative physical barrier deeming infiltration to Israel formidable. Finally, the coordination and increased cooperation between the IDF and Palestinian Security Forces has resulted in greater regional stability. The coordination is based on a mutual interest and understanding that Hamas pose a threat to stability in the region. Combined, these factors have resulted in a large economic growth in the West Bank. The reality from the process of the last two years outlined above has resulted in a decline in unemployment rate (3% decrease in the first quarter of 2010 compared to previous year), an increasing GDP rate (9% in the first half of 2010), and continued construction, especially in Nablus and Bethlehem for social, cultural and economic purposes (i.e. shopping malls, hotels, cinemas).

Note that there are no checkpoints in the entire Judea regional brigade (Hebron area), and that there are no checkpoints on the road from Bethlehem southward to Hebron.

* These numbers count fully manned checkpoints and do not include roadblocks, temporary barriers, or security crossings from the West Bank into Israel. In an earlier post, it was mentioned that two checkpoints have been added near Route 443 making the total number of checkpoints 16. This was not however accurate since the new security checkpoints are crossings into Israel and not within the West Bank." (source)

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