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June 27, 2003 - Image 17

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

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

ter, Ehud Barak, said at a conference
last week that examined the failures of
the July 2000 Camp David summit.
The land between the river and the
sea can "either be a Jewish state or a
democracy," Barak said. If Israel
annexes the West Bank and Gaza Strip
and the Palestinians are not given the
vote, he said, "then Israel will be an
apartheid state."
In his 90-minute speech, Barak
slammed the current Israeli govern-
ment for dragging its feet in building
the wall. He said had the wall been
built sooner — plans for the fence
were explored as early as 1994, under
Prime- Minister Yitzhak Rabin — then
an additional "500 people could have
been walking among us today."
Dozens of local Israeli leaders whose
communities are situated close to the
Green Line have been making the
same argument. Some, like Danny
Atar of the Gilboa Regional Council,
have said the Sharon government's
delays in building the fence constitute
criminal negligence.
Defense Ministry sources contend
that the fence's construction is a
Herculean task. "It's like building a
superhighway on tough terrain under
constant attack," said Netzach
Mashiach, the Defense Ministry's proj-
ect manager of the Seam Line
Construction.
Over the past 11 months and
despite a bitterly cold and wet winter,
Defense Ministry officials said, con-
tractors have excavated 15 million tons
of earth, replaced it with millions of
tons of gravel, sand and concrete and
laid the groundwork for a "dead zone"
stretching 65 yards on either side of
the fence.
Besides the millions of dollars worth
of electronic equipment required to
monitor movement along the fence,
the ministry is to install 310,000
square yards of metal fencing and
1,000 miles of barbed wire.
Military sources interviewed at the
site of last week's terrorist shooting
said the project has been hampered by
frequent Palestinian sabotage. "We lay
down a stretch of 100 meters of fenc-
ing and they steal or destroy 50 of it,"
one source said.
Looters also have been stealing
everything that is not bolted down —
and much that is, they added.
Mashiach says a fence is only as
good as the forces that monitor it and
the intelligence units that provide the
Israeli army with alerts. "Every obsta-
cle can be infiltrated if it is not prop-

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6/27
2003

17

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