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Defense officials called for a revision of security procedures at IDF checkpoints in the West Bank on Tuesday after it was released for publication that a truck driven by a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber and laden with 100 kilograms of explosives crossed into Tel Aviv last month.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has arrested 19 members of the cell behind the planned attack, which officials said was scheduled for the first night of Pessah, last week.
The Defense Ministry, The Jerusalem Post learned Tuesday, drafted a comprehensive plan for the installation of bomb-detection equipment at major crossings into Israel last year. It was never implemented, however, because of budgetary constraints.
Pessah terror attack narrowly avoided
Today, the vast majority of the dozens of crossings into Israel are equipped with only the most limited technology.
The terrorist driving the truck, affiliated with the Hamas branch in Kalkilya, made it to Tel Aviv, but for an unknown reason returned to the West Bank where the car exploded a few days later in a "work accident."
On Tuesday, security officials criticized the IDF's management of the roadblocks leading in and out of the West Bank and said new procedures and technologies were needed at the crossings.
The truck with the explosives was allowed to pass into Israel at a checkpoint outside Kalkilya since the bomber has an Israeli identity card that he received on the basis of family reunification after he married an Israeli Arab from Taiba. In addition, the truck had Israeli license plates.
"This is scandalous," a senior official in the Defense Ministry said. "A car with 100 kg. of explosives should not be able to cross in and out of Israel freely."
The official called for an increase in manpower at the crossings and for more stringent procedures, which would include some inspections of vehicles that are driven by Arabs who carry Israeli identity cards. The officials also demanded the installation of additional technological means at the crossings to assist in identifying bombers and explosives.
The crossings do not have explosives-identification equipment but are equipped with other technological systems, including advanced cameras and sensors. According to a source in the Defense Ministry, money was allocated last year to upgrade scanning equipment at the Karni Crossing into the Gaza Strip as well as a number of cargo crossings in the West Bank.
"We need additional scanners and biometric systems," the official said. "This is the only way to prevent terror infiltrations into Israel."
The official called for a change in the IDF's policy of not inspecting Israeli cars driven by Arabs, charging that while it might seem "racist and discriminatory" to check only Israeli Arabs and not Jews, legislation could overcome the obstacle.
"If legislation is not passed and the IDF is not allowed to check Israeli Arabs, then technology is the only way to stop terror infiltrations," the senior official said, adding that since the erection of the West Bank security barrier, terrorists have only succeeded in infiltrating into Israel through the crossings, mostly while using cars with Israeli plates.
Sources in the Central Command rejected the criticism and said the IDF was doing everything in it could to prevent terrorist infiltrations under the current technological constraints.
The sources also said the IDF's policy of not inspecting cars with yellow (Israeli) license plates at crossings into Israel from the West Bank was a problem.