Bereaved husband: Next attack 'matter of time'

Man who lost wife in shooting tells 'Post' easing restrictions on Palestinians will only breed more terror.

rimonim 224.88 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
rimonim 224.88
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Alexander Galiah, who lost his wife in a terrorist attack at the Rimonim junction six years ago, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday he knows from personal experience what it means to ease security restrictions for the Palestinians. Etty Galiah, 48, was shot to death on November 18, 2002 by a Palestinian terrorist who plugged nine bullets into her car as she drove past that junction, near the Palestinian village of Taiba. The roadblock was unmanned as a gesture to the Palestinians. So Galiah, who never remarried, was concerned to hear on Monday that the roadblock, which had been in use since his wife's murder, had been dismantled by the army as part of a promise by Israel to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "It's worrisome," said Galiah. The father of seven has lived in the Orthodox Kochav Hashahar settlement for 28 years. He warned that another terror attack at the junction, like the one that shattered his life, is just a "matter of time." "It will happen again, just like the last time," he said. "The moment there is no army presence, it isn't a problem to stand there and to kill," said Galiah. He was not reassured by a pledge the army made to Binyamin Regional Council head Avi Ro'eh to deploy a jeep to protect the road. The IDF said that no such promise had been made. But Ro'eh told the Post the army would make good on its word and that he planned to come to the Rimonim junction to check. If the soldiers weren't there, he said, settlers would man the area themselves, but he provided no details on how that would be done. Ro'eh said he would also move his office to the junction. On Tuesday afternoon, around 100 settlers, mostly teens, gathered at the junction, a few meters away from territory under Palestinian Authority control, to protest the checkpoint's removal. Among them was a mother of three, Ilanit Amsalem, from the secular Rimonim settlement. She stood and waved a large Israeli flag. For her, as for the other protesters, the issue was personal. "I drive here every day with my children," Amsalem said. Next to her, Avi, who didn't want to give his last name, said the fear was very real for him because he drove along the road in 2002 only a few moments after Galiah was shot. He was among those who found Galiah in her car. Avi, a real estate agent who works in Jerusalem, said that when he moved to Rimonim 14 years ago, he thought it was a cheap and good alternative to living in the capital. Now, as he watched Palestinians driving down the isolated road, he said he felt trapped. He wanted to move but couldn't sell his home because the settlement was located outside of the West Bank security barrier, he said. The government had so far refused to pass legislation to allow for voluntary compensation, Avi said, and at the same time it was refusing to provide security for its citizens who lived in the area. It's worse then that, said Kochav Hashahar resident Yishai Ben-Mordechai, "they are taking the protection away." Unlike Avi, he said, he was deeply tied to his home and had no interest in leaving the settlement. As he and the other adult demonstrators stood on the side of the road, the teens tried unsuccessfully to surround and stop the Palestinian cars driving by. One young man tried to sit on a dusty blue car before he was pushed away by police. A young girl who wore pants under her skirt kicked the tire of a Palestinian car. One nervous van driver who saw the teens turned around to avoid them until the police pushed them aside. At one point, Ro'eh gathered the teens in a circle to remind them that the issue was to improve security, and not to prevent Palestinians from using the road. "Do you think this helps?" asked a puzzled Gilad Horovitz, 14, as he sat on the ground with the others listening to Ro'eh and unsure what their next step should be. "It does help us," Ro'eh assured them. Yaakov Katz and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.