A view from the fence

During our trip to Israel last week as the guest of America’s Voices in Israel we took a tour of the security fence. We first drove north from Jerusalem with IDF Captain Noa Meir (head of the IDF’s North American public relations desk) to the fence checkpoint outside Qalqilyah. We watched IDF soldiers operate the checkpoint and walked along the fence. The IDF’s background report on the security fence (including maps) is available online here.
Qalqilyah is an Arab town on the West Bank that is a Hamas hotbed and that has been a source of terrorist and sniper attacks against Israel. It virtually abuts the Israeli town of Kfar Saba. Israel’s north-south Highway 6 runs adjacent to Qalqilyah for a short stretch. Arab terrorists conducted a number of sniper attacks on Israelis from buildings in Qalqilyah that provide a vantage onto the highway.
Later that day we took an “intellicopter tour” on security issues that gave us an aerial view of the fence from Qalqilyah south to Jerusalem. Our group was carried in two helicopters, each with its own guide from The Israel Project. I flew with Calev Ben-David, who is included in the picture of our group above. (Thanks to reader Douglas von Roeder for reducing the file size of the photo.) I was struck by a couple of facts about the fence..
The security fence is a multilayered system that for 95 percent of its length uses sensors as its chief operational component. The fence is not electrified; no one can be harmed by touching it. As we observed at the Qalqilyah checkpoint, a small part of the fence incorporates a solid barrier wall that is desiged to prevent sniper attacks from buildings that neighbor the highway in Israel. The barrier is only as high as necessary to deprive snipers of the ability to shoot Israelis from adjacent buildings.
I did not find the fence to disfigure the landscape. I did find that the description of it as an “apartheid wall” or the like must derive from those who place an extraordinarily small value on the lives of Israeli citizens. At the price of some hardship to Palestinians who must now go through checkpoints to reach agricultural areas and some inconvenience to Palestinians who would prefer easy access to Israel, the fence has reduced successful terrorist attacks on Israelis by approximately 90 percent.
Our aerial tour continued west of Jerusalem to the Israeli town of Sderot, where we set down. Sderot is the Israeli town near the Gaza Strip that has been the prime target of Kassam rockets launched by Hamas terrorists seeking to kill Israeli civilians since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. In Sderot we toured the police station that houses the Kassam rocket shells. Jim Hoft has posted photos of the rocket shells here. We also went up to the border and took a look into Gaza from a military guard tower outside Sderot.
I had not understood that the Kassam rockets are a Hamas innovation. The rockets are actually fabricated in Gaza, not imported from elsewhere. Kassam rockets join the explosive vest as the Islamist contribution to modern civilization.
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