Samaria council head calls for better security at Itamar

Tamar Fogel, 12, says her parents sought "unity of the Jewish people," protests that Netanyahu says ‘we build’ but then evacuates.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 18, 2011 01:53
4 minute read.
Shaul Mofaz, Ze'ev Elkin in Itamar

Shaul Mofaz, Ze'ev Elkin in Itamar 311. (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)

The absence of a proper security system around the Itamar settlement enabled a terrorist to infiltrate the community and kill five members of the Fogel family last Friday, charged Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika.

“Construction of the fence around the settlement and the technological apparatus was not completed because of a lack of funds and because of [legal] instructions,” he told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee who visited Itamar on Thursday.

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“This fence is inferior to other fences [that surround settlements]. I call on you to ensure that Itamar will have the ability to secure its community, just like any other community,” Mesika said.

He called on committee head Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) to investigate the absence of these defense measures and to correct the matter immediately.

Mesika spoke to the committee members as they toured Itamar on Thursday afternoon to see firsthand the scene of the terror attack in which Udi Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and three of their six children – Yoav, 11, Elad, four, and Hadas, three months – were killed.

“The security of Israeli citizens can’t be harmed for political reasons,” said Mesika, charging that a proper security apparatus and a full fence had not been constructed because of budgetary reasons and because the High Court of Justice had ruled that it was illegal.



According to the IDF, the terrorist climbed over the fence and set off an electronic warning system, but the security guard who rushed to that spot believed an animal had set off the alarm.

Mesika told The Jerusalem Post that if proper cameras had been installed, the guard would have been properly able to assess the danger.

Separately he said that the proper response to the attack was for the government to build five new settlements named after the victims.

He showed the committee members where the terrorist had come into a back yard in a row of homes on the edge of the settlement.

The terrorist entered a home that was empty because the family had gone away for Shabbat, Mesika said.

They stole a weapon from the home and then waited, said Mesika. The Fogel family next door was hosting a number of their daughter Tamar’s friends, he said.

When she left with them, the terrorist entered, he said.

Mesika then brought the committee members into the Fogel home to see the overturned furniture and the purplish chemical spots on the walls, where blood had been.

On the wall in the living room was a photograph of the former Gaza settlement Netzarim, where the Fogel family had lived until they were evacuated during the 2005 disengagement.

Mesika described how in each room the terrorist had attacked a different family member.

After they left the house, Mofaz said that from a security perspective, “the fate of Itamar was the fate of Tel Aviv.”

Mofaz said he believed the IDF would find the terrorist, and that he was of the opinion that Itamar had a sufficient security apparatus. The question, he said, was why the system had failed on Friday night.

Hours later, in Jerusalem, mourners gathered at the Yeshurun Synagogue for a memorial service for the Fogel family.

Ruth Fogel’s father, Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, said that in the past week he and his family had felt the support of all of Israel, which had hugged and strengthened them.

“Udi and Ruti, we knew that you were good people. Today we are learning that a whole world was inside each of you.

Every minute, more and more was revealed,” Ben-Yishai said.

In an interview with Channel 2 on Thursday, 12-year-old Tamar Fogel said, “This whole thing, and everything that has happened to the people of Israel, has not broken us. We will continue to settle the land.”

She recalled the moment when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had come to her grandparents’ home after the funeral and said that “they kill and we build – and we will build.”

“I said, okay, but then you evacuate. When you came to comfort us, you said we build and we expand, but on the ground, you evacuate all the time. And it isn’t just an evacuation – there is also a civil war,” she said.

She added that what had been most important to her parents was the unity of the Jewish people.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Tzipi Livni made a pledge to 12-year-old Fogel on Wednesday to work to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Livni made the promise during a visit to the family, which is sitting shiva at the home of Ruth Fogel’s parents in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.

Pollard’s wife Esther visited the shiva house earlier and presented teddy bears from her husband to Tamar and her two surviving siblings.

Tamar showed the bear to Livni and asked her to take action on behalf of Pollard, who has served more than 25 years of a life sentence.

Livni responded that she had worked to bring about Pollard’s release and would continue to do so. She commended Tamar for her selflessness.

“Despite all your pain, you are thinking about the pain of others,” Livni told Tamar. “This is heartbreaking and amazing.”

Livni’s associates recalled that as foreign minister, she had urged American officials to release Pollard in gratitude for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. She told the Knesset two months ago that Pollard’s fate was an apolitical issue.


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