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Erecting a giant prison for all Israelis

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Tuesday, 16 February 2016


The demagoguery of Prime Minster Netanyahu seems to have no limit - demagoguery in a sense that he says and acts on anything to buttress Israel's hold on the West Bank in the name of national security. This time around, Netanyahu came up with another absurd idea, proposing, as he stated, a "multi-year plan to surround Israel with security fences to protect ourselves in the current and projected Middle East."

Netanyahu went on to say that: "In our neighborhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts." Knowing Netanyahu and his sentiment toward the Palestinians, using inflammatory language is customary for him, as he views every Palestinian as a would-be beastly terrorist.

It is obvious from everything we know that the purpose of building such a fence, which runs through a significant portion of Palestinian territory, is to make the expropriation of Palestinian land permanent.

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At the same time, he continues to expand settlements in the West Bank and more than likely will build new ones while providing more than 10,000 soldiers to protect the settlers, ensuring that Palestinians will never establish (under his watch) their own state; of course, all of this is in the name of national security.

Netanyahu knows only too well that no fence, however high and regardless of the material it is made of, will prevent a determined terrorist from finding a way to penetrate it.

True, he will introduce the newest technology to detect any attempt to pierce through the wall; however, he seems to ignore the fact that Palestinian militants have perfected the art of building tunnels through which insurgents can still wage attacks on Israeli civilians or military personnel, even at the expense of getting killed in the process.

Netanyahu himself raised the question of the tunnels, stating: "If you're thinking of erecting a fence there you have to take into account that they could tunnel underneath it. The people who said that there is no significance to [retaining] territory in the modern age should go to Gaza."

Let us go to Gaza then; what do we find? Hamas has been able to build scores of tunnels underneath the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, and have successfully been able to go through the tunnels and attack Israeli forces and civilians.

Although Israeli forces found many of these tunnels during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 and destroyed the majority of them, Hamas is now at work building new tunnels, knowing that no matter what security measures Israel takes, it will not find all the tunnels. Hamas is still in a position, should they chose to do so, to cross the fences from underneath.

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Netanyahu also seems to ignore the fact that no fence, however sophisticated it may be, can stop rockets from being fired at Israel. During that same operation, Hamas was able to rain more than 3,000 rockets, which reached much of Israel's urban areas and caused tremendous havoc.

True, most of these rockets were intercepted; however, it was not the fence that intercepted them but the Iron Dome air defense system, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the separation wall.

Netanyahu appears to ignore another reality in northern Israel along the Lebanese border, where Hezbollah is in possession of tens of thousands of short and medium range advanced rockets that can reach just about every part of Israel. What kind of fence, one might ask, does Netanyahu have in mind to stop Hezbollah from firing dozens of such rockets simultaneously?

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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