IDF tightens security on Jordan border

Regulations on farmers in Jordan Valley tightened due to concerns of possible al-Qaida kidnappings.

jordan valley 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
jordan valley 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF has tightened regulations on farmers in the Jordan Valley who work land along the border with Jordan, out of concern that al-Qaida terrorists might try to kidnap them, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The fears within the defense establishment have grown over the past year as threats from al-Qaida and global jihad elements against Israel have increased. The concern within the IDF's Jordan Valley Brigade is that farmers who work fields that are within Israel but on the other side of the border fence that is visible from the Jordan Valley Highway will be targeted, since there is barely any security in the area. The border fence runs in some parts along the actual border, but in most sections, it fences in farmland that belongs to Israel. According to the new regulations, farmers need to coordinate their crossings of the border fence with the IDF so the military knows at all times of the number and identity of the Israelis who are there. Israel and Jordan, defense officials said, have close security ties, and field commanders as well as higher-level defense officials meet regularly to discuss different issues, including the security situation along the border. The IDF Jordan Valley Brigade conducts numerous patrols along the border and also lays ambushes throughout sections it believes are more vulnerable to infiltration. In contrast, the Jordanian military does not patrol the border, but maintains a large number of watchtowers where lone soldiers are stationed. "This is a real threat," a senior officer in the Central Command said. "It is no secret that al-Qaida is converging on our borders and the kidnapping of a farmer or a soldier would be a major success." Al-Qaida's presence in the region is not new. For years, the defense establishment has warned of the looming threat, claiming that global jihad cells were bolstering their presence in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. An al-Qaida group is believed to have been behind the firing of a Katyusha rocket from Jordan into Eilat in 2005, and behind an attack last year against a Jordanian resort not far from Kibbutz Ein Gev in the North. Global jihad cells were also blamed for the 2004 and 2005 bombings in Taba and Sharm e-Sheikh in Sinai. Jordan Valley Regional Council head Dubi Tal said that farmers in his area had long been in danger of a kidnapping attempt. Such a threat is to a farmer in the Jordan Valley is what the fear of a suicide bomber is to those living in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, he said. "It is in the air, but there is nothing new. We have gotten used to it," he said. The farmers are working in the fields as they usually do, Tal said. He added that the Jordanians are even more scared of al-Qaida than the Israelis and as a result are doing a good job of guarding the border. "We feel very secure with the Jordanians," he said.