IDF post near Beit Jala.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The IDF is set to complete work to fortify its position at the entrance to the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, between Har Gilo and Bethlehem, against bullets and bombs.
The fortification, ordered by the Etzion Territorial Brigade, comes weeks after an infantry soldier who was guarding the post lost his left eye, when a Palestinian hurled an explosive device at the position.
The Panorama position, as it is known in the IDF, is manned by a company from the Shimshon Battalion, a part of the Kfir Infantry Brigade, together with a Judea and Samaria Border Police Company. The post has seen several explosive device assaults in recent years, leading the Etzion Territorial Brigade to order its Engineering Branch to draw up a protection program.
Military sources said last week that a series of evaluations held by the brigade found that a deterioration of the security situation could lead to the position coming under increased threat. When work is done, the Panorama position is to be significantly more protected than other army positions in the same sector.
The brigade is moving large concrete trapezoids to block off shooting and bomb attacks, and installing a bulletproof position for the post’s guards.
In addition, it is installing new cameras to enable rapid responses.
The steps came as the brigade launched several initiatives to thwart attacks in the Bethlehem region. These include the arrests of wanted security suspects in the West Bank city, and surrounding areas. In one recent operation, the brigade arrested members of a suspected terrorism cell from the Aida refugee camp, who are accused of hurling explosive devices at the Rachel’s Tomb site.
Capt. Teddy Gabaro, an Engineering Corps officer from the Etzion Brigade, told The Jerusalem Post
last week that the new defenses will be fully operational this year.
“We reinforced the entire front end of the Panorama position,” he said.
This included the construction of a new bulletproof post, including a bullet-proof and bomb-proof glass booth, for the post’s security guard, and the concrete blocks.
“We started work on this last week,” he said. “We are scheduled to complete the work next week.”
Cranes have been moving the heavy concrete blocks into position.
“The work is complex. We are always on the roads, so we have to take safety, as well as security precautions against threats like vehicular attacks” he said. “We have forces guarding us during the works.”
“Only a few other positions in Judea and Samaria are reinforced like this,” he said.
Engineering Corps units and Israel Police bomb squad officers are training companies on site how to deal with bombs and respond professionally to suspicious packages.