security fence 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former O/C Southern Command, Maj-Gen. (Res.) Yom-Tov Samia warned on Wednesday that a section of the route of the fence near the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion would enable Palestinian snipers to hit cars on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.
Samia spoke during a High Court of Justice hearing on a petition submitted by residents of Mevasseret Zion against a section of the fence that the army has placed on the southern side of a hill overlooking the capital.
Samia said the hill, known as Hill 847, is the highest point in the area and of critical security importance. Originally, the fence had been designed to skirt the hill on the northern side, so that it would have been in Israeli-controlled territory.
But large parts of a 40-kilometer section of the original route of the fence northwest of Jerusalem were rejected by the High Court on the grounds that they caused disproportional harm to the Palestinian residents of the area.
The army went back to the drawing boards and presented a new route. This time, the hill was left on the Palestinian side of the fence.
Samia also argued that part of the new route is located only 300 meters from homes in Mevasseret. "I can fire a bullet from a light weapon straight into the window of a home from 1,500 meters on my first shot," said Samia. "Three hundred meters is extremely close."
He also warned that "two Palestinian snipers could close the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway for eight hours." Samia was referring to a sharp bend in the road beneath the Givat Shaul cemetery near the capital, which was within easy range of the Hill 847.
Attorney Hagai Sitton, who is representing a group of Mevasseret Zion residents who petitioned the High Court, said he had received a letter from Israel Railroads, stating that it opposed the route of the fence near Hill 847 because Palestinians could attack it even with rocks.
Samia also opposed giving the Palestinians control of another hill nearby. The army has proposed erecting the fence on the side of the slope of the hill, in an area where it flattens out before continuing its steep descent. But Samia warned that the route would enable Palestinians to occupy the peak of the hill, from which they would endanger soldiers patrolling the fence and the residents of Mevasseret.
Sitton asked the court to issue an interim injunction prohibiting the army from building the disputed section of the wall. The court will hand down its decision at a later date.