IDF to move Betar Illit checkpoint for better coverage

In order to prevent infiltrations from the West Bank, senior army officials advise moving checkpoint to Green Line.

construction work in beitar illit 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
construction work in beitar illit 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In an effort to stem the flow of illegal Palestinians into Israel, the IDF plans to move a key roadblock near the settlement of Betar Illit later this month so it will sit on the Green Line and allow soldiers to stop Palestinian infiltrators.
The roadblock, which is manned by soldiers, is currently situated within the West Bank and before the entrance to the haredi city of Betar Illit, south of Jerusalem.
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Due to its location within the West Bank, soldiers manning the checkpoint cannot legally detain Palestinians just for passing through.
“If we move it to sit exactly on the Green Line the soldiers will have the legal authority to stop Palestinians,” a senior IDF officer who serves in the Central Command said.
The area to the west of Betar Illit has yet to be closed by the security barrier, which runs along most of the West Bank and has posed an obstacle for Palestinian terrorists trying to infiltrate into Israel.
As a result, the area is frequently used by Palestinians to cross into Israel, mostly in search of work.
Last month, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed that two Palestinians from villages near Hebron had been arrested for murdering Kristine Luken, an American tourist, in December in a forest near Beit Shemesh. The two were wanted by police for their involvement in criminal activity in the area and frequently used the gap in the security barrier to enter Israel to commit crimes.
“We meet Palestinians from all over the West Bank who come specifically to this area to try and infiltrate into Israel,” the senior officer said.
Despite the gap, the Defense Ministry has yet to determine when and how it will close off the area between Betar Illit and Beit Shemesh.
Part of the delay is due to political sensitivity since Betar Illit and the Gush Etzion bloc just southeast of it are meant to remain part of Israel even after a peace deal with the Palestinians, and closing that gap would mean closing off the bloc from western Israel.