idf roadblock 298 88 idf.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh's objection to the removal of roadblocks in the West Bank is justified from a military perspective. The roadblocks prevent terrorism, Central Command sources explained on Monday. If they are not there, their work will go undone.
Defense officials warned Monday of the effect the policy of restraint would have in the face of continued Kassam rocket attacks. Firstly, they said, it made Israel appear weak and incapable as Palestinian attacks continue without disruption.
All it would take, officials said, was for a Kassam rocket to kill someone in Sderot or for a suicide bomber to infiltrate into Israel via one route where a roadblock had been lifted.
The moment this happens, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will have no choice but to ditch the diplomatic overtures to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, send troops back into the Gaza Strip and restore the roadblocks. The gestures are a gamble and the moment Olmert's luck runs out is the moment the IDF will be back in action.
IDF soldiers thwart terror attacks at roadblocks in the West Bank every day. Some find pipe bombs on their way to roadside attacks and others arrest Palestinians carrying knives and guns. They also catch the occasional suicide bomber, although the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) do their utmost to thwart the major attacks while they are still in the planning stages.
If it was up to the military, the soldiers would remain at the roadblocks and Kassam cells about to launch rockets at the western Negev would come under immediate IDF fire. For several weeks, Defense Minister Amir Peretz has been calling on the prime minister to allow the IDF to take the offensive and strike back against the Kassam cells. Olmert has rejected the request.
Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem claimed Monday that the IDF did not see the bigger picture.
"It is not just about the situation on the ground," they explained. "But rather sometimes there is a need to take risks and chances to see if you can move forward with a diplomatic process."
This might be true, but while Israel is making overtures and extending good-will gestures to Abbas, the Palestinians are not responding accordingly.
On the contrary, weapons smuggling is increasing and, according to deputy head of IDF Operations Brig.-Gen. Sammy Turgeman, Israel will soon find itself facing "new and unprecedented forces" in the Gaza Strip.