The security barrier leading up to Jerusalem.
(photo credit: FINBARR O'REILLY / REUTERS)
The breach in the West Bank security barrier shows that the southern area of the country is still vulnerable to terrorist attacks, Yesha Council security head Shlomo Vaknin said on Monday.
He spoke two days after 67 Palestinian thieves from the Hebron area managed to illegally enter Israel through a water pipe, situated under a concrete stretch of the barrier that separates the Negev from the South Hebron Hills.
According to Israel Police the thieves then entered Moshav Shekef and were able to pick 30 tons of grapes and tomatoes before they were detected.
“The problem isn’t the tomatoes,” said Vaknin. “The problem is what would have happened if the terrorists had come in.”
“Next time there could be a murder,” said MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi).
The infiltration occurred along a 42-kilometer stretch of the barrier that has been rebuilt in the last year. The Defense Ministry replaced a wire fence with concrete slabs but left areas underneath for water to flow through in large concrete pipes during the rainy season.
The pipes are not the only opening in the barrier, which has not yet been built in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank.
Yogev has called for an emergency meeting of Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subgroup on Judea and Samaria to discuss the security failures that occurred during that breach.
“This was an intelligence failure,” said Col. (res.) Danny Tirza, who was the original architect of the barrier.
On its own the barrier is just a concrete wall, he said, adding that it works only in conjunction with IDF and Border Police patrols, intelligence work and electronic systems.
In this instances, he said, there were no alerts that went off to indicate a breach. He added that the “army and the Border Police did not work together.”
As of this summer, only some 470 kilometers of the barrier’s 790 kilometer route had been completed. Among the unbuilt stretches are the routes in the areas of Ariel in Samaria, Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim and the section from the Dead Sea to Yatir.