Settler head argues for inner barrier in south Hebron Hills

The "inner barrier" under construction north of the southern Hebron Hills settlements is necessary for their security, according to Hebron Hills Regional Council head Tviki Bar-Chai. "The barrier is meant to prevent Palestinians from entering the settlement areas from villages to the north and west," he told The Jerusalem Post Monday. Bar-Chai made his remarks in response to a petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) late last week, demanding that the army cancel its plans to build the wall, which is primarily meant to prevent Palestinians from entering the area where Sussiya, Carmel and Ma'on are located along Highway 317. ACRI also asked the court for an interim injunction to suspend the ongoing construction of the inner barrier until it ruled on the request to cancel it altogether. The route of the cement barrier, which is less than one meter high, is close to the route of the separation barrier originally approved by the government. The government changed the route following the High Court ruling on Beit Surik, in which the court wrote that the authorities must find a proper balance between Israel's security needs and the welfare of the Palestinian population. The separation barrier in the South, which is under construction, now runs largely along the green line, with a few small bulges to include Israeli settlements just north of it. According to ACRI, some 80,000 Palestinians living in 21 villages will be trapped in the area between the "inner barrier" and the separation barrier and will allegedly be cut off from the rest of the West Bank. "We are talking about a cement barrier that will cut off many kilometers of agricultural land," wrote attorney Limor Yehuda. "The effective result of the physical closure of this area will be that the [Palestinian] residents of the enclosed area will not be able to reach any village or town outside the enclave without having to pass through the checkpoints along the inner barrier." Palestinian farmers living north of the inner barrier who owned agricultural land to the south of it would also be cut off, Yehuda added. "The secondary fence is not a fence but rather a concrete rail that is normally used along roads," Defense Ministry spokeswoman Rachel Naidek Ashkenazi said. "It will be 82 centimeters high and will channel the traffic. There won't be any enclaves." According to reliable sources, the secondary fence will include four gates that can be closed in case of security threats.