Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
June 16—For the past four days, we, the people of Israel, have been holding our breaths and praying for the safe release of Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon. Both Frenkel and Shaar study at the Makor Chaim yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, while Yifrach studies at the Shavei Chevron yeshiva. All three were on their way home Thursday evening when they were kidnapped by Palestinian Arab terrorists. The absence of security checkpoints on major highways and major junctions throughout Judea and Samaria no doubt made their kidnapping and the swift getaway by the terrorists that much easier.
In recent years, Israeli left-wing anti-settlement organizations masquerading as human-rights organizations have succeeded in convincing the IDF Central Command that security checkpoints are an unnecessary burden on the local Palestinian Arab population. Palestinian organizations, global human-rights organizations, and anti-Israel organizations have all joined hands to magnify international pressure to dismantle security checkpoints throughout Judea and Samaria. The kidnapping of our three boys can be considered a direct result of this mindset, which gives precedence to Palestinian Arab convenience over the safety of our boys and girls who travel the roads of Judea and Samaria day in and day out.
The international media have consistently portrayed the use of security checkpoints as restricting the free movement of Palestinian Arabs, but these checkpoints respect the human rights of Israelis to remain alive while keeping Israel safe from terrorism. Arab terrorists would not be able to kidnap innocent teenagers waiting for a ride home knowing that security checkpoints are functioning and preventing unrestricted movement on the roads of Judea and Samaria.
Despite TV footage of Palestinian Arabs handing out candies to passersby throughout the villages of the Palestinian Authority in support of the kidnapping of three innocent Israeli teenagers, there will be those who remain unimpressed and will continue to be concerned only with the ability of Palestinian Arabs to move freely, no matter the consequences for us Israelis. However, the complex reality is far from what they may have heard and the very opposite of what these champions of Palestinian rights claim.
Security checkpoints prevent terror and save lives. Today, there are nearly 40 crossings between Judea and Samaria and other parts of Israel. Some are used for the passage of people; others are used for the passage of goods. In addition to these crossings, 13 security checkpoints are placed strategically throughout Israel’s Central Command region, and operate in time of need and in light of security considerations. “Crossings” and “security checkpoints” are different things. Crossings are facilities used by Palestinian Arabs to enter from Judea and Samaria into other regions of Israel. Checkpoints, on the other hand, operate during times of heightened security to prevent terrorists from carrying out their plans to harm Israeli civilians.
Security checkpoints are used as a method to filter out and prevent terror attacks before would-be terrorists have a chance to approach Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria or enter central Israel. The number of security checkpoints in the Central Command went from 40 in July 2008 to just 12 in October 2012. These checkpoints are only used some of the time, and the frequency of checks is dependent on the security threat at the time. Yet what is rarely mentioned is that in 2013 there was a significant increase in the scope of violence and terrorism in Judea, Samaria, and the Jerusalem area. According to data from the Israel Security Agency, in 2013 there were 1,271 terrorist attacks, as compared with 578 in 2012 (a year in which violence and terrorism also increased significantly from 2011). I expect that when the statistics for 2014 come in, we will witness an additional increase in Palestinian Arab terror; a major component of this increase in terror can be tied directly to the dismantling of security checkpoints throughout Judea and Samaria in recent years.
Those who pressure Israel to dismantle security checkpoints are not in favor of peace. They are not interested in reconciliation or cooperation. Their success in pressuring Israel to dismantle security checkpoints provides terrorist wannabes the ability to implement kidnappings and other terrorist attacks. It’s as simple as that. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.