Israel needs full security checks for Palestinian workers

Every morning I see 50-60 Palestinians waiting for work right near my home in Beit Shemesh. They have permits to enter Israel every morning and return to the Palestinian territories in the afternoon.

October 11, 2018 22:05
3 minute read.
Israeli security forces stand guard outside the US consulate in Jerusalem

Israeli security forces stand guard outside the US consulate in Jerusalem adjacent to the new US embassy, on May 13, 2018. (photo credit: AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)


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Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel – a 28-year-old wife and the mother of a toddler – and 35-year-old Ziv Hajbi – a husband and the father of three young children – were murdered by someone they saw on a daily basis. The terrorist, 23-year-old Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alwa from the Palestinian village Shuweika, worked as an electrician at the industrial zone for seven months prior to the attack and execution-style double-murder. He, along with thousands of other Palestinians, were permitted into the site to enable them to support their families. The victims may have even greeted him by name when he walked into their office.

I believe that the attack at the Barkan Industrial Zone this week must once and for all lead to a change in Israeli policy toward Palestinian workers.

This is not the first terrorist attack that was carried out by Palestinians who were familiar to the victims.

On a daily basis, tens of thousands of Palestinians enter Israel to work throughout the country. Every morning I see 50-60 Palestinians waiting for work right near my home in Beit Shemesh. Contractors come by and pick them up to bring them to day jobs. They have permits to enter Israel every morning and to return to the Palestinian territories in the late afternoon. Whenever I see them I wonder how we can protect ourselves from one of them deciding, God forbid, to carry out an attack in our neighborhood. And then an attack actually occurs at a site of “co-existence” and “tolerance,” and my fears become even stronger, and the need for a solution becomes even more dire.

A few days after the attack, I spent an entire morning at Hadassah Hospital with a family member who had to undergo a routine procedure. Israeli hospitals are known to be great examples of coexistence, with people of different faiths and backgrounds helping one another. I have to admit that as I saw the Arab nursing assistant and the Arab nurse tending to my family member, I could not help but think about the tragedy that could ensue if any of the hundreds of Arab medical practitioners were influenced by the incitement in the Palestinian media. I believe in coexistence and tolerance. I have written and spoken about it extensively.

I WAS SAD that my mind went there. But it did.

So, what should be done?

I will never forget looking out the window of the airport in Australia one time as an El Al plane pulled up to the jetway to be prepared for our flight back to Israel. As each and every Australian airport employee came out to do their jobs, their entire bodies were scanned by El Al security personnel. I am sure this is not a pleasant experience for these workers, but El Al has no choice. They cannot risk the possibility that one of them will come to work with a desire to carry out a terrorist attack and sabotage the safety of an El Al flight. So they check them thoroughly. Every employee. Every flight.

I believe we need to adapt that philosophy and approach to our daily life in Israel. Yes, Palestinians who are approved by the security agencies should be allowed to enter Israel to work. But those permits should not be enough. Each and every one of them should be fully scanned in a careful manner before they enter Israel proper, or Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria. There must also be a computerized system that records when they entered and when they left in the late afternoon. This can easily be done via fingerprint technology. We should invest in making sure the process moves quickly and doesn’t cause too much inconvenience for the workers – but what other choice do we have?

I believe that our hospitals should fully scan and check each and every person who enters on a daily basis – Arab, Jew or Christian. We want to preserve the incredible coexistence which one sees in the hospital and not risk even one tragedy that could destroy that. The only way to do so is through serious security checks and not simply having people rush through medical detectors.

We all hope and pray that Kim and Ziv, of blessed memory, are the last victims of Islamic Jihadist terrorism, and that their children are the last children to be orphaned in this manner. But beyond hoping and praying, there are steps that can be taken to prevent tragedies of this kind. I hope and pray that our government acts to do so.

The writer served as a member of the 19th Knesset.

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