IDF removing shelters in Gilo

Work is a result of stable situation in the area.

Gilo panorama 311 (photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg)
Gilo panorama 311
(photo credit: Matthias Guggisberg)
One of the most dramatic manifestations of the daily violence faced by Israeli civilians during the perilous years of the second intifada – a long link of concrete barriers erected around the southern perimeter of Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood to protect residents against shooting attacks from the adjacent Palestinian village of Beit Jala – will be removed Sunday morning, the IDF and Jerusalem Municipality announced on Thursday.
“As a result of the stable security situation in the area, the Israel Defense Forces, in coordination with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Police, will begin dismantling the protective concrete structure,” a statement from the IDF Spokesman read.
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“It should be emphasized that the decision to remove the protective structure was made as a result of situational assessments in the Central Command, staff work and agreement among all of the relevant officials,” it added.
A security source told The Jerusalem Post that “ongoing military operations in areas like Bethlehem and Beit Jala are highly efficient.”
According to both the IDF and the municipality, the work is expected to take two weeks, during which the neighborhood’s Ha’anafa, Hashayish, Margalit, Shoham and Achlama streets will be closed to traffic.
The drop in shooting attacks has persisted since the conclusion of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the IDF’s largest incursion into the West Bank since the Six Day War, which demolished much of the terrorist infrastructure behind the second intifada campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings.
Before that military operation, Gilo residents had faced bullets fired from apartments in Beit Jala whizzing through kitchen windows and living rooms at all hours of the day and night. Streets were emptied and stores shut as the random gunfire terrorized the neighborhood nonstop.
In response to the attacks – perpetrated by gunmen from Fatah’s Tanzim organization – the government began installing bulletproof windows on a number of apartment buildings directly facing the neighborhood’s sprawling border with Bethlehem, and then deployed the large concrete barriers that are now coming down.
The barriers were soon painted by local residents with various flowery, childlike scenes to offset the jarring reality.