IDF pulls soldiers out of communities bordering Gaza, Lebanon and Syria

By
September 17, 2013 11:17

Security source says that soldiers have been reallocated, not cut, based on a new assessment of the security needs of each community.

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SOLDIERS FROM the Shahaf Battalion.

SOLDIERS FROM the Shahaf Battalion 370. (photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)

The IDF has pulled soldiers out of frontline communities near the northern and southern borders, a senior army source said Tuesday, after senior commanders concluded that the arrangement was no longer necessary for security.

In the past, the IDF’s Southern Command placed soldiers at the entrance to nine towns and villages near the Gaza and Egypt borders, while the Northern Command secured 13 frontier communities in this way.

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Evaluations carried out at IDF headquarters concluded that enhanced border security measures, such as electronic sensors, patrols and lookout posts, combined with additional components, meant that the practice of placing soldiers inside the communities is no longer necessary.

“We know where the threats come from, what routes threats could take, and we understand these measures are no longer needed,” the source said. “The need to defend communities from the inside seems less relevant,” he stated. Operational considerations rather than budgetary constraints lay behind the move, he added.

In the West Bank, the Central Command will continue placing soldiers in settlements for their protection against terrorist attacks.

Haim Yalin, head of the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza Strip, told The Jerusalem Post that the decision is a mistake that will harm the security of local residents.

“We totally oppose this,” he said. “There is no replacement for soldiers who defend places like Kerem Hashalom and Nativ Ha’asara, and give residents a sense of security. When people see soldiers with their uniforms and flak jackets guarding, they sleep soundly.”

Yalin said communities located within a kilometer of Gaza especially required the additional protection.

“The minute there is an infiltration by terrorists, people will go to the heads of local councils and ask why we allowed the soldiers to leave. We live here and breathe the air; we understand the threats. We know the threats posed by fog and the dangers posed by farmers who work near the Gaza border,” Yalin said.

But Shlomo Vaknin, in charge of security for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria said that 20 West Bank settlements would also be impacted by the new security arrangements.

The IDF has notified these settlements that 17 soldiers will be removed from their security details by October 1, and that anywhere from 23 to 33 soldiers will be taken off the details as of January 1, Vaknin said.

Soldiers will continue to guard the settlements, he said, but the number in each settlement will now be reduced. He added that the move harms smaller settlements that have less resources to make up the gap. Although the settlements could sustain the cuts, Vaknin said, he was concerned by the implications of the move, fearing they could lead to further cutbacks.

Council spokesman Yigal Delmonti noted that 33 soldiers had already been cut from security details in settlements in Judea and Samaria a few months ago.

These communities are under threat of infiltration, Delmonti said, and past experience has shown that such infiltration can have tragic results.

The area around settlements in Judea and Samaria is not secured by the same physical and technological barriers as are border communities and, as a result, they are more reliant on IDF security details, he said.

A security source said that soldiers had been reallocated, not cut, based on a new assessment of the security needs of each community.


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