Members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Avi Dichter (Likud), toured the South Mount Hebron area on Thursday to examine the security and civil situation there in light of the recent terror attacks.
Dichter and committee members MKs Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi), Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism), Sharren Haskel (Likud) and Amir Ohana were briefed by Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, and other senior officers on the security-related challenges and the successes in the operational activity aimed at curbing terror in the region.
Carmeli accompanied the committee members to the point on Route 60 where Michael Mark was murdered. Later, the division commander explained the challenges in preventing infiltration to Israel in areas where there is no security fence.
(Committee members during tour of South Mount Hebron area)
The committee members also visited Otniel, where they were briefed about the incident in which Dafna Meir was murdered by a Palestinian who had infiltrated the community. The committee then held a special meeting at the home of Mount Hebron Council head Yochai Damari. MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) also took part in the meeting.
Michael Mark`s daughter, Shira, said to the committee members, ”I lost my father, and I want to yell `enough,` but it seems to me that you should be yelling and doing something about it. Mount Hebron needs you!”
Psychologists and social workers who work in the area said local children have trouble sleeping due to anxiety and go to bed only after they make certain that all the doors and windows are locked. The psychologists discussed the need to budget more therapy sessions for children.
A doctor who lives in Otniel and works in Jerusalem said the number of local adults who take anti-anxiety medication is much higher than the national average. ”After Dafna`s murder, the country has come to realize that there is a unique population here, which does not talk in terms of `price tag` or violence and wants to live in good neighborly relations with the Arabs,” the doctor said, while mentioning the daily contact and cooperation with the area`s Arab population. ”Despite this, we may have to leave, because we do not want to be the next newspaper headline.”
Committee Chairman Dichter said, ”Unfortunately, deaths and anxiety are characteristics of life in the State of Israel – including in Mount Hebron, Samaria, the Gaza vicinity, the northern border and the heart of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The children of Otniel, Sderot and Ashkelon live with the same anxiety. The sense of insecurity among the children is the most crucial thing that we, the committee members, must take from this visit, and these are the questions we will present to those who are supposed to provide answers to the residents.”
”I was pleased to hear so much about the Palestinian side`s willingness to cooperate,” Dichter continued. ”To hear these comments and see the plans for a new regional hospital – I was pleasantly surprised, particularly as someone who comes from a more suspicious world. We are full of appreciation for the broad-mindedness of the residents and the council head, as well as for how they protect us, our children and the coexistence with the other side.”