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(photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Despite protests by Green groups and orders by Defense Minister Amir Peretz to come up with "technological alternatives," the IDF, a senior officer told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend, has decided there is no choice but to construct a physical structure along the 30 kilometers of the security barrier that run through the Judean Desert.
In January, Peretz ordered that construction in the area be suspended after environmentalists and settlers argued the barrier would scar the landscape, harm wildlife and disrupt the ecosystem.
The route runs 30 km. from Metzadot Yehuda (Beit Yatir) to Nahal Tavor. Peretz's decision followed a request by a number of Knesset members.
But senior officers in the Central Command told the Post there was "no alternative to a physical barrier" and that the only way to stop terrorist infiltrations from the south was to erect a fence. Deputy OC Central Command Brig.-Gen. Kobi Barak is in charge of the construction and is scheduled to present a new plan to Peretz for approval in the coming weeks.
According to details of the plan obtained exclusively by the Post, a security fence will be erected along 25 km. of the 30-km route. The five-km. mountainous section between Mount Hezron and Mount Holet will be protected by radars and other sensors.
According to Barak's plan, the route will include a physical barrier like most of the eastern security fence set to run from Gilboa in the Galilee down to Meitar near Beersheba, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008. The barrier in the Judean Desert, however, will be two-thirds the height and will be 30 meters wide - including a patrol road - instead of the standard 50.
"Wherever there isn't a fence there are terrorist and criminal infiltrations," a top Central Command officer said.
Barak has also designed special "rabbit holes" in the fence to enable hyraxes - common in the Judean Desert - to cross. There will also be larger holes, to accommodate other animals, that will be equipped with radar to warn security forces of possible terrorist infiltrations.
"We are doing the utmost to prevent harm to the environment," a senior Central Command officer said. "But at the end of the day, there is no alternative to a physical barrier and a fence is the only way to guarantee Israel's security."
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