Diskin: Removing roadblocks harms us

Shin Bet head says such actions should only have been taken after W. Bank barrier was completed.

diskin 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
diskin 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin criticized the Defense Ministry on Sunday for removing 50 unmanned West Bank roadblocks last week in partial fulfillment of its promise to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It is harmful to Israel's security to take away the barriers that restrict Palestinian movement, Diskin told the cabinet at its weekly meeting. Such actions should only have been taken after the West Bank security barrier was completed, he said. As of this winter, only about 63 percent of the barrier was finished, according to the Defense Ministry, which estimated that the project would not be finished until 2010. There were 563 road barriers as of this winter, according to the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Out of those, only 87 were manned. Two of those 87 checkpoints were also removed last week - one near the Rimonim junction, between Ramallah and Jericho, and another one near the Dead Sea - as part of Israel's commitment to the US to help the Palestinians. Machsom Watch, which monitors checkpoints and roadblocks, told The Jerusalem Post their removal did not pose a threat to Israel. Many of the barriers, including those supposedly removed last week, hampered Palestinians' movement from one village to another, said Nomi Lalo of Machsom Watch. Terrorists do not pass through roadblocks, Lalo said. They skirt around the barriers and instead enter Israel through gaps in the security barrier, she said. Lalo agreed that true security would only come if the barrier was completed. But it should be on the Green Line, not on the current route that dips into the West Bank, Lalo said. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.