(photo credit: )
Defense officials told settlers on Monday that it was still likely that the security fence would be constructed in the Judean Desert, even though work there had been halted last month due to environmental concerns.
Environmentalists and settlers have joined forces to persuade the Defense Ministry to find an alternative to the security fence in the region. They had argued that the security fence would scar the landscape, harm wildlife and disrupt the ecosystem of the area.
Initially, the Defense Ministry agreed to halt work there and explore other options to secure the area. But on Monday, security officials told South Hebron Regional Council Chief Tzvika Bar-Hai that Defense Minister Amir Peretz had not been swayed by the alternative options presented and that he was still of the opinion that the security fence was the best idea.
On Monday, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh toured the area under construction in the Judean Desert with Bar-Hai and officials from environmental groups.
"We are working on finding a solution that will not harm the wildlife or the environment but will at the same time provide the necessary protection against Palestinian terrorists," said a source in the Central Command.
The route runs 30 kilometers from Metzadot Yehuda (Beit Yatir) until Nahal Tavor. Peretz's decision followed a request by a number of Knesset members who asked to suspend the construction.
Bar-Hai said the Defense Ministry was still exploring the matter.