IDF flights over West Bank to continue ahead of freeze

Army monitors building in settlements, possible violations; fears future freeze may bring escalation in attacks against Palestinians in W. Bank.

By
November 23, 2010 06:09
2 minute read.
Barkan settlement

Barkan settlement 311. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Civil Administration is continuing to conduct reconnaissance flights over Jewish settlements in the West Bank ahead of the possible implementation of a new freeze on construction in the coming weeks, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The flights over settlements were conducted during the previous 10-month moratorium that went into effect last year and expired in late September.

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The administration has decided however to continue the flights as part of an effort to map out ongoing construction in settlements and possible violations.

Several months ago, towards the end of the previous moratorium, the administration received Defense Ministry approval as well as the necessary funds to recruit some 40 new inspectors responsible for enforcing the freeze on construction.

Some predictions were that following the expiration of the freeze, the new group of inspectors would be disbanded. With the possibility of a new freeze on the horizon, The ministry has decided to retain the new inspectors who will be needed, more than before, in the event of a new moratorium.

“A new freeze will be much harder to enforce,” one official said on Monday. “The settlers have learned how we work and are threatening to be less compliant with a new government edict that stops construction work.”

Earlier this month, Peace Now released a report claiming that settlers had built foundations for over 1,100 new homes in the weeks since the moratorium ended.

No full calculation was ever presented regarding the number of housing units on which work was suspended from November 26, 2009, to September 26, 2010. Based on past figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, it was likely that work on anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600 housing units was affected.

According to defense officials, a new moratorium, if imposed, could include all construction, even buildings which foundations have already been laid for, unlike the last freeze when such sites were permitted to continue working.

“A new freeze will be much more complicated due to the magnitude of the construction that is going on in the territories,” another official said.

Another concern is the type of violence that could erupt in the West Bank following the implementation of a new freeze. Fears in the IDF are that settlers will not respond quietly to a future freeze like they did in the past and that there could be an escalation in Jewish attacks against Palestinians.


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