Move of security barrier near Bil’in to soon be complete

Ben Abraham

The move of the route of the security barrier was mandated by a High Court decision in 2007; IDF (Zahal) Central Command expects that weekly demonstrations in Palestinian villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin will continue

Date: 27/04/2011, 1:24 PM     Author: Dan Tamir, Bamahane magazine

Work to change the route of the security barrier near the Palestinian village of Bil’in will soon be completed, almost four years after Israel’s High Court of Justice mandated the change.

The process of moving the fence to the west will be finished in two months. The move was approved by the Defense Ministry a year ago.

“We are fully applying the High Court decision and are returning the land to the residents of Bil’in,” said Lt. Col. Shahar Sheetrit. ‘The Palestinian residents have been interested in getting their land back. During weekly demonstrations, they complained that we had not begun the work to do this. Now they are seeing with their eyes that the planned work is being completed and that it is going to happen soon.”

Despite the change to the route of the security barrier, the IDF (Zahal) Central Command does not anticipate that the weekly demonstrations in the villages of Bi’ilin and Ni’lin will end.

“We do not expect that this will influence the demonstrations,” Lt. Col. Sheetrit said. “There is all kinds of speculation about what will happen in the future.”

According to the new route, the security barrier will be built around 400 meters from the Israeli community of Modi’in Illit. The residents of that community have expressed some reservations to the IDF (Zahal) about the move of the barrier. Stone tiles will be placed on the western side of the new barrier so that it will look more aesthetic for residents.

The Central Command said that features of the new barrier incorporate past lessons on protection of communities. Among other things, gates will be included in the barrier, which will allow IDF (Zahal) forces to defend the community during infiltration incidents.

The High Court decision made in 2007 mandated that a 1,700-meter-long portion of the security barrier be dismantled and that an alternative be built on a new route. The panel of judges found that the original route was designed to allow for the growth of Modi’in Illit, and not for security reasons. The court also said that the original route was topographically inferior, endangering forces patrolling the area.