IDF warns of new terrorist infiltrations in. West Bank

Treasury cuts funds for settlement security.

efrat 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
efrat 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Noting an increase in the number of criminal infiltrations into West Bank settlements in recent months, top IDF Central Command officers said on Wednesday that security needs to be beefed up around the communities to prevent terrorist attacks. The warnings came as West Bank settlers revealed on Wednesday that the IDF Home Front Command had cut some 70 percent of funding for the maintenance of defense systems in their communities. The money is annually allocated to repair electronic fences, cameras and other sensors. A senior Central Command officer told The Jerusalem Post that the IDF was concerned over the possibility that terrorists would try to infiltrate settlements to perpetrate attacks. Shlomo Vaknin, head of security at the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said the cutbacks meant that a deadly infiltration of a settlement was only a matter of time. "We need these funds right away," Vaknin said. "When the first glitch occurs, the systems will simply collapse... and it will not be long before a town is infiltrated without warning." According to the senior officer, the army is particularly concerned about the Jordan Valley, where there has been a significant increase recently in the number of criminal infiltrations and attempted infiltrations of Jewish settlements. "Terrorism almost always catches a ride on the back of crime," the officer said. The Finance Ministry has also decided to cut funding for the installation of plastic windows in settlers' cars, despite the increase in stoning attacks in the West Bank. According to the senior officer, the IDF has noticed a growing involvement of children in the attacks. The IDF confirmed that the Home Front had transferred less money this year for settlement security but said that this was due to a decision by the Treasury to cut the funding. "The Defense Ministry and the Home Front Command are continuing to negotiate with the Treasury to increase the budget and get the missing funds," the army said. Kadima MK Otniel Schneller said he convened a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee a week ago to discuss the issue. The government and the IDF were "failing" to protect Israeli citizens living or driving in the West Bank, he said. "This is not expensive, but it is critical," Schneller said. "And it is especially important considering the fact that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are gaining strength in the West Bank." An Israeli mistakenly entered Dahariya village near Hebron on Wednesday evening, and was detained by Palestinian police. They returned him safely to Israel. The IDF stressed after the incident that Israelis are still barred from entering Palestinian-controlled areas. In the Kalkilya area, a Molotov cocktail and rocks were thrown at Israeli cars on Wednesday night. No casualties were reported, but several vehicles were damaged. The IDF imposed a closure on the West Bank at midnight on Tuesday, to prevent terrorist attacks over the Purim holiday. The closure is due to be lifted at midnight on Sunday.