A senior IDF officer said that since the IDF is unable to stop the terrorist attacks on Route 60, between the Gush Etzion Junction and Kiryat Arba (Hebron), and specifically the section that passes by the Arab villages of El Arub and Beit Ummar, the army will instead be building a bypass road and a bridge, The Jewish Press was told by reliable sources.
Etzion Brigade commander Col. Yaniv Elalouf said in a closed meeting with local residents of Efrat that the bypass road would move Israeli traffic around 200-300 meters away from El Arub and 400 meters away away from Beit Umar. The road would also be raised on a bridge in that section, and come out near Carmei Tzur.
The officer said that the current proximity of Arab houses to the main highway provides the terrorists with the cover needed to to easily attack Israeli motorists and then quickly escape. By building a bypass bridge and road, the terrorists would be forced out into an open area to commit their terror attacks (or use longer range weapons).
The officer estimated that the road would be finished within a year to a year and a half.
The officer said that the road is not being built because we are afraid, but because the IDF is unable to contain the attacks.
The road will likely cost millions of dollars to build, at a time when the government budget in general and the IDF portion of it in particular are being cut. But there’s a more profound cost to this decision, in morale and in the continued IDF failed strategy of dealing with terrorism in Judea and Samaria.
No one is doubting any longer that a full-fledged third intifada has been brewing there, encouraged by statements made by visiting President Barack Obama, as well as more recent statements by visiting Secretary of State John Kerry. But the IDF’s approach to this acute problem of lawlessness and murder, is to name it “popular terrorism” — meaning it is somehow legitimized by the fact that a lot of Arabs support it — and to invent mad plots of “containing” it.
It begins with rules of engagement that essentially turn any IDF man on patrol into a potential prisoner, should he actually try and do his job (IDF Soldiers Humiliated by Arab Rioters: We Are Sitting Ducks). This has resulted in so many IDF units fleeing the scene of confrontation, they’ve become a running gag in the daily entertainment of Arab youths. Watch the Jewish soldiers run, M-16 rifles and all, from kids who throw rocks at them.
The other face of this shameful attempt to “contain” violent criminals, is through technology. IDF soldiers on patrol have been issued vests that improve their ability to sustain blows (IDF Latest Response to Arab Riots: ‘Nerf’ Bullets). And wherever Arabs make it a habit to pelt Jews with rock and firebombs, Israel responds by erecting fences, paving alternative roads and now, how majestic, actually build a bridge above the troubled area.
There’s only one area where Israel’s security forces appear to enforce a zero tolerance approach — whenever Jews are responding to their violent neighbors. If the IDF and the GSS applied the same zeal to picking up Arab terrorists and keeping them in jail, they wouldn’t really need this bridge to nowhere.
This is a link to a YouTube video of the officer’s appearance last Saturday night.
The following is a translation of the officer’s speech on the video. The video was shot by Natan Epstein of the Tazpit News Agency.
The question is twofold: One, the road leading south from Gush Etzion and Hebron is difficult, I will tell you here, it is the most difficult road in Judea and Samaria. It is the road that poses the toughest challenges in terms of popular terrorism. The other part of the question suggested that parents of children and youths who participate in popular terrorism should be punished.
The proper response to the issues regarding the road from the Gush junction to Kiryat Arba is to pave a new road. I truly and honestly believe that in the near future this road, which everybody has known for a decade, will be paved, 200 to 300 meters west of its current path, avoiding the Al-Arroub refugee camp where the beating down of the protective fences takes place. The new road will run over a tall bridge which will let us pass far away from Beit Ummar – 400 meters – and will return to the highway at the Karmei Tzur junction.
We’re not doing this because we’re afraid. We’re doing it because the operational reality of a road running inside [an Arab] village creates challenges which inevitably require our daily responses. And, still, in order that I fail in my mission, all it takes are 20 seconds out of a 24 hour period, in which a stone is thrown.
By the way, this causes my own stomach to turn, too. When this happens near us, we experience a feeling of real failure, that we haven’t been able to prevent this one rock.
Our longer term response—meaning a year to a year and a half—we must complete this new road. That’s the first item. The second item is to increase the number of soldiers on this road.
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