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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Court may close road through security fence in Jerusalem

I still find it amazing that every step of the 'security fence' has to be scrutinized by the know-nothing 'Supreme Court.' If the US ever decides to build a fence between itself and Mexico to cut off illegal immigration, does anyone believe the US Supreme Court will hear anything other than one global challenge to the fence, and leave its route to be decided by experts? Yes, I know, there is a recognized international boundary between the US and Mexico, so maybe the comparison is not entirely apt, but the 'security fence' that Israel is building is between itself and stateless territories that it administers!

Maybe the 'Supreme Court' is finally looking at all the blood that has been shed because the fence is only half complete after four years, but this article indicates that there is hope that it will allow the gaps to be filled after 82 attempts by suicide bombers to infiltrate the fence since January. We can dream....

There have been 82 attempts by suicide bombers to enter Israel through the gaps in the separation barrier surrounding Jerusalem since the beginning of 2006, Orit Koren of the State Attorney's Office told the High Court of Justice on Sunday.

Koren was explaining the state's position on requests by three petitioners asking the court to keep open the road directly linking Dahiyat el-Barid, on the "West Bank side" of the fence, with Jerusalem.

The state wants to close the road and the IDF checkpoint at that entrance to Jerusalem, which would force Palestinian residents of the neighborhood who hold Israeli identity cards and want to reach the capital to drive north past A-Ram to the new border terminal at Atarot, and head south from there. The route is longer, and they would also have to undergo security inspection at Atarot, which, they maintain, would take much longer.


Only 330 kilometers of the security barrier has been completed since construction got underway in late 2002 - less than half of the total route. According to the state, the biggest security threat is caused by the uncompleted portions around Jerusalem. "Security leaders regard the completion of the greater Jerusalem separation barrier as a central goal," said Koren.

Last week, a 21-year-old Palestinian reportedly passed through one of the breaches in the Jerusalem barrier and reached Tel Aviv, where he blew himself up outside a shwarma stand, killing nine people and wounding dozens more.

Security officials said one reason for the slow pace of construction in the Jerusalem area has been the intervention of the High Court of Justice, which has ordered work suspend on some sections in response to petitions against the fence. In the wake of the attack, Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to learn about the problems that are holding up construction, especially in the Jerusalem area.

Military sources told The Jerusalem Post some of what that Olmert will learn: There are currently 53 petitions pending in the High Court against sections of the barrier route that have not yet been built. Another seven petitions are aimed at completed sections, and two more deal with military restrictions aimed at Palestinians who own land or live on parts of the West Bank that are on the "Israeli" side of the fence.

Of the 53 petitions, 17 concern the barrier surrounding Jerusalem, an area defined as stretching all the way from the Ofer military base west of the city to the eastern municipal boundary. [The Ofer military base is on Route 443 at the entrance to Ramallah - about seven or eight minutes' drive from my house. CiJ] Another 15 deal with the area between Elkana and Camp Ofer. Six petitions concern the Ariel Bloc, an enclave penetrating some 15 kilometers into the West Bank.

Much of the route around the Ariel Bloc is still in the planning stage, but construction is already underway around Ariel itself, Emmanuel and the Beit Aryeh-Ofarim area [Beit Aryeh is within shooting range of Ben Gurion Airport according to fellow blogger Westbankmama. CiJ] . Five petitions address the route of the fence around the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem. There are four petitions against sections of the fence route south of the Etzion Bloc, running from the Palestinian village of Jabaa to the southeastern end of the barrier at Metzudat Yehuda, and another three are aimed at the "little barrier," a concrete wall 85 centimeters high that runs for 41 kilometers north of the barrier, alongside Highway 317 and the southern end of Highway 60. There are also three petitions aimed at the route of the barrier around Ma'aleh Adumim.

In most cases, the High Court has allowed the Ministry of Defense to build the barrier in return for a promise from the government to dismantle the contested segments if the court eventually rules in favor of the petitioners. In some cases, however, the court has issued interim injunctions prohibiting construction.

These injunctions include ones against the barrier routes: in the Modi'in area near Nil'in and Deir Qaddis [This is near Modi'in Ilit/Kiryat Sefer. CiJ] ; in the Bir Naballah area northwest of Jerusalem; a section designed to protect Ma'aleh Adumim from the south; a small section near Eizariya (Bethany), east of Jerusalem; five in the Gush Etzion Bloc; and one in the Ariel Bloc near Beit Aryeh-Ofarim.


According to Marc Luria, a founding member of the Security Fence for Israel lobby and a senior member of Uzi Dayan's Tafnit Party, less than 40 kilometers of the fence are currently stalled by High Court injunctions. Olmert will have to look elsewhere to explain the slow pace of construction.


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