On a daily basis, Israel faces terrorist threats and many other challenges to its security. The activities of the IDF (Zahal) are a key part of Israel’s efforts to combat the constant dangers facing Israeli civilians. Here we answer the most important questions about the IDF (Zahal)’s continuous work to keep Israel safe.
1. What is a “security fence”?
Israel built security fences as a protective measure against terrorists who attempt to attack Israeli civilians. Following a wave of terror attacks in the early 2000s, there was a need to find a way to defend Israel’s residents.
The security fence in Judea and Samaria
Since the construction of the security fence in Judea and Samaria, terror attacks on Israel have decreased by 99%.
Between 2000-2005, before the fence was built, more than 1,000 civilians were killed, and 6,000 were injured in suicide bombings, sniper fire and other forms of terrorism.
97% of the fence surrounding the Judea and Samaria region is made of chain-link fence, while the remaining 3% is made of concrete intended to prevent terrorists from sniping civilian vehicles.
The security fence in Gaza
The security fence in Gaza is a border fence. Although terrorists continue to fire rockets on Israeli civilians from within Gaza, the fence has prevented terrorists from infiltrating Israel.
Goods and people in need of medical treatment may enter Israelthrough certain crossings along the Gaza border. About 400 Gazans travel into Israel each day through the Erez crossing.
A rioter cutting the security fence
2. What are areas A, B and C?
The Oslo 2 Accord divided the Judea and Samaria Region into three administrative divisions – Areas A, B and C. Each area is defined by the level of control permitted to Israel or the Palestinian Authority until the establishment of a final status accord.
Area A is under full civil and security control of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli citizens are not permitted to enter Area A.
Area B is under civilian control of the Palestinian Authority and under joint Israeli-Palestinian security control.
Area C is under full Israeli control.
3. Do Palestinians have the freedom to enter and exit Judea and Samaria of their own accord?
Every Palestinian wishing to enter Israel must contact the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in order to obtain a permit. There are 74 types of authorization, which vary according to the type of activity and permit duration. The vast majority of applications are processed and approved within 24 hours.
Crossings are the main points of entry between Judea and Samaria and other parts of Israel. On average, 45,000 entries are permitted daily between Israel and Judea and Samaria. “Our role is to ensure the safety of every Palestinian civilian, that he or she has freedom of movement and economic access,” says the head of crossings in COGAT.
During special occasions, such as the Ramadan, measures at the crossing in Judea and Samaria are eased for the benefit of the local population.
Palestinians entering Israel during the Ramadan
4. What are the Palestinian attacks that threaten Israelis daily?
On a daily basis, Palestinian terrorists attempt to attack civilians living in Judea and Samaria and other parts of Israel. These are the threats that IDF (Zahal) forces confront every day:
Terror cells and other groups that plan and carry out attacks. Last year, Israeli forces arrested members of a Ramallah-based terrorist cell who executed a terror attack on a Tel-Aviv bus in 2012. The IDF (Zahal) works constantly with Israeli security forces to foil the plans of terrorist cells like this one.
Terrorists who act alone rather than as part of a group. In November of 2013, a lone Palestinian terrorist stabbed an Israeli soldier as he slept on a bus. On September 20, Sgt. Tomer Hazan, aged 20, was killed by a Palestinian who lead him to an open area north of the village of Siniria. Israel’s security forces must always remain alert for these kinds of attacks.
Riots and violent protests. Even as IDF (Zahal) forces try to keep the peace, Palestinian “demonstrators” resort to rock throwing and other acts of violence against Israeli soldiers.
Throwing Molotov cocktails. In January 2014 alone, Palestinians threw 121 firebombs at Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Hurling rocks. In 2013, there were more than 2,400 Palestinian rock throwing attacks in Judea and Samaria. These incidents may not seem serious, but a simple rock can kill.
5. What is the purpose of checkpoints?
Checkpoints are used during times of heightened security risk as a method to filter out and prevent terror attacks, before the terrorists have a chance to enter Israel and execute their plans to harm civilians.
On 9 August 2001, A suicide bomber detonated himself in busy Pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem, killing 16 civilians, including 7 children, and injuring over 130.
Through routine, non-violent inspections, the soldiers at the checkpoints make sure that no weaponry and munitions cross through.
There are currently 12 checkpoints in the Central Command, as opposed to 40 in 2008.
6. Are there IDF (Zahal) soldiers in Gaza?
The IDF (Zahal) is no longer active inside the Gaza Strip, ever since Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan in 2005.
Currently, Hamas is the main authority in the area and bears full responsibility for all internal issues such as economy, education and medicine.
In 2005, in a heavyhearted act, the IDF (Zahal) facilitaed the transfer of nearly 9,000 Israelis from Gaza who had to leave their homes and livelihoods that they had built over the course of several decades.
7. Why is there a maritime closure on Gaza?
The closure on Gaza was imposed due to the significant terrorist threat posed by Hamas and other groups, as part of the IDF (Zahal)’s duty to protect the citizens of Israel.
Israel checks all material entering the Gaza Strip to ensure that weapons that can be used by terrorists against Israeli civilians do not enter. Ships are taken to Israeli ports where the cargo can be properly inspected, after which the materials are free to be transported into Gaza through the designated land crossing.
8. Are Arab-Israelis recruited to the IDF (Zahal)?
As opposed to Israel’s Jewish civilians, Arab-Israelis are not required to join the IDF (Zahal). As an alternative to military service, they may volunteer for a year of civil service in Israeli communities.
Nevertheless, many Arab-Israelis choose to enlist. One example is Monaliza Abdo, an Arab Christian from Haifa. She wasn’t required to join the Israeli army, but her determination to protect Israel motivated her to volunteer. As a fighter on Israel’s southern border, she rose through the ranks to become a commander, teaching soldiers how to combat terrorism and other threats.