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June 27, 2003 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

This Week

Eumpty Dumpty?

Israeli security fence going up, but it's a lightning rod for criticism.

been compensated for their losses.
Israeli settlers fear the fence could one day isolate
them on the Palestinian side of an international bor-
der.
Though Israel says the location of the fence is
temporary and could be moved after a final peace
agreement, many believe the fence will establish the
de facto border of a future Palestinian state, which
most settlers vehemently oppose.
"We've opposed the fence since it was first debated
in the government almost two years ago," said
David Wilder, a leader of Hebron's Jewish commu-
nity. "It is a de facto political determination — in
fact a border — which only radiates weakness to the
Arabs. And, as the last few weeks have shown, it
does not stop terror."
One should not build a fence to fight against ter-
rorism, he said. "The only way to prevent terror is
to uproot it where it starts, in Palestinian cities,"
Wilder said.

Good Fences

"Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean
live 10 million people," Israel's former prime minis-

Palestinian laborers work on an electronic fence and the security wall (not visible) that surrounds the Palestinian
city of Kalkilya, near the Israeli city of Kfar Saba.

Israel Insight

TEM ISSUE

MATTHEW GUTMAN
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Tel Aviv

n austere monolith of reinforced con-
crete, the 25-foot-high wall that separates
parts of Israel from the West Bank con-
jures up images of the Berlin Wall,
Hadrian's Wall or even the Great Wall of China.
But some Israelis fear that the wall — part of a
security barrier that will have electronic fences,
ditches, patrols and high-tech monitoring devices —
may bear a greater resemblance to the Maginot Line,
the fortification France built in the 1930s to protect
itself from German assault. That supposedly impreg-
nable line of defense failed to protect France from
German attack in 1940.
The Middle Eastern wall, being built to protect
Israel from Palestinian infiltration and assault,
already has failed. Last week, Palestinian terrorists
managed to crawl through a sewage tunnel under-
neath the barrier near the Palestinian city of
Kalkilya, cut through steel grating and make it to
Israel's Highway 6, where they shot dead Noam
Leibowitz, a 7-year-old girl in a passing car.
Only small sections of the fence actually will

6/27

2003

16

include a wall, in areas where Palestinian towns and
cities come so close to the fence that Palestinians
could shoot at Israelis nearby.
Called the "security fence" by the military estab-
lishment and the "separation fence" by many others,
the barrier has been assailed in the Israeli press and
by some right-wing politicians as a white elephant
— a costly obstacle unable to thwart determined ter-
rorists. Yet this is hardly the first time the $200 mil-
lion, 100-mile-long fence has come under political
fire.
Ever since the Cabinet gave the nod to contractors
to begin their massive excavations last July, the fence
has been controversial. It runs roughly along the
contours of the Green Line, the boundary that sepa-
rates Israel proper from the West Bank. At certain
points, however, the fence is slated to cut east into
the West Bank to protect large Jewish settlements.
The Palestinian Authority says the fence is the first
step in the establishment of a border that would cre-
ate a fragmented Palestinian state, with isolated
communities in non-contiguous territories at the
mercy of the Israeli army.
Palestinians living along the Green Line also have
accused the Israeli government of stealing their lands
to clear a path for the fence — though they have

There have been various reports of late con-
cerning Yasser Arafat. One says that the Israeli
defense establishment discussed killing him,
but that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon prom-
ised the Bush administration it would not.
Another claims Palestinian leaders are
demanding that Arafat be set free from his 18-
month confinement at his Ramallah headquar-
ters before they will commit to further steps
on the road map peace plan. Questions also
exist regarding what remains of his power and
influence.

=NM THE ISSUE

While Yasser Arafat reportedly still controls at
least one of the several Palestinian security
forces, he has been virtually cut off from fund-
ing — a key instrument for maintaining loyal-
ty. In addition, he has lost almost all interna-
tional legitimacy, with most diplomatic visitors
to the Palestinian Authority refusing to meet
him. There are even rumors that, in order to
escape the siege, Arafat is building a home for
himself in Tunisia.

Allan Gale, associate director, Jewish
Community Council ofMetropolitan Detroit

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