Following the recent deterioration of the security situation in Judea and Samaria, local residents have decided to take their security into their hands, reinitiating a civilian based recon unit which was operative during the second Intifada. In recent months there has been a sharp upsurge in terrorist attacks against the residents of Judea and Samaria. The number of stone and fire-bomb attacks on the roads has increased dramatically. To contend with this reality the local security councils have decided to reestablish the civilian security patrols on the roads.
The IDF has lately decreased the size of its forces in Judea and Samaria. As a direct result, Arab terrorists are freer to operate. Furthermore, the IDF has reopened some roads to Arab traffic which have been closed up until now for security reasons. This further endangers the Jewish motorists.
The security councils of Neve Tsuf and Ateret, in Benyamin, dispatched a letter to Minister of Defense Ehud Barak protesting their current precarious condition. “The situation is ablaze and there is no response provided, and it seems that the peak is still ahead of us,” they stated in the letter, “… The residents have come to one conclusion – the authorities have left us with no proper response and we must care for our own security. In a joint decision, we have decided to reestablish the civilian patrols which will scout the roads during the dangerous hours and will provide security to the residents against terrorism.”
They further stated that, “As citizens of the State of Israel, we regret that the trust we had in the security system no longer exists and we can no longer rely on the military to provide the necessary security to our communities and the roads leading to them.” The residents’ representatives concluded the letter with a demand that the IDF restore a presence in the region, thus providing the required security which will enable them to conduct their lives in a proper fashion. Copies of the letter were sent to top IDF officers in the region and to members of Knesset
The civilian patrols are deployed at crucial points, serving as spotters and deterrents. They are equipped with first aid kits and communication tools. They were directed to travel slowly to detect any looming danger. If attacked, they are to block the roads and warn other drivers of the upcoming perils.
On Feb. 18th, several cars were significantly damaged after being attacked with stones on the Trans-Benyamin highway. It took the army a long time to arrive on the scene, and a significant numbers of cars were hit until the IDF finally arrived and stopped the attacks. Last Friday, several Israelis were ambushed with stones at several points on the roads. Earlier that day a driver spotted two youth who were about to attack him. He drew his weapon and waved it at them and they ran away. In a different incident, a driver was attacked and fired in the air, and the terrorists fled the scene.
Yitzchak Shadmy, Chairman of the Benyamin Residents Council and a lieutenant colonel in the IDF reserves told Tazpit News Agency: “The IDF has lately left various areas in Judea and Samaria. Now, every time something happens it takes the IDF a long time to respond, up to the point where they are not relevant. It is upsetting that the IDF has not yet comprehended that a new Intifada is on the rise, and that it can be stopped early on. We call on all the residents to join and create a standing by force that will protect the women and children, before someone pays a heavy price.”
Neve Tsuf’s secretariat told Tazpit that: “Following the IDF’s decrease of its forces in the region they are unable to fulfill their mission. With the knowledge of the security forces, a civilian patrol has been established. Its mission is to warn the IDF of security related incidents in real time. We regret that as citizens we are forced to replace the security forces guarding our lives. We demand that the political echelons get involved to restore a sense of security and peace to our area.”
An IDF official told Tazpit News Agency that they are doing their utmost, overtly and covertly, to contend with these attacks. The IDF categorizes stone attacks as terror and relates to them accordingly. He further added that the IDF has not decreased its presence in the region, but rather has redeployed its forces. He reaffirmed the IDF’s commitment to the residents of Judea and Samaria.