A work in progress

Despite being one-third incomplete, the section of the West Bank security barrier around east Jerusalem has been effective so far, according to a Jerusalem Police spokesperson. This section of the fence, which will stretch 92 km. when complete, is 61 km. long at present, with 23.56 km. currently under construction. The six km. not under construction are awaiting approval from the courts. When complete, the fence will stretch from Mahaneh Ofer near Givat Ze'ev and go to the Jerusalem tunnels. The Defense Ministry hopes that construction will be complete by the end of 2009. Although a Defense Ministry spokesman could not give an exact number of policemen guarding the Jerusalem section of the barrier, it is estimated that hundreds of guards patrol the fence's area on foot, in armored cars or from watchtowers. The rest of the guards man the fence's 13 checkpoints, some of which are restricted to commerce and others to pedestrians or cars. While the police do not keep an exact count, they estimate that tens of thousands pass through the checkpoints every day, with the highest concentrations during the morning and evening hours. In addition to city policemen, soldiers and private security companies assist with checkpoint supervision. The biggest threats to the fence's efficacy occur in holes created by those trying to pass through illegally. While police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby admitted that this problem occurs from time to time, he said that municipal and Border Police fix the holes immediately. Although there have been five terror attacks in Jerusalem this year, two directed at security personnel and three at civilians, Ben-Ruby said that the security situation is, at this point, calmer than it has been in years. "We haven't gone back to the big attacks of the al-Aksa intifada," Ben-Ruby said. "In terms of the security situation, the city is blossoming and is much quieter. It's doing well now." When completed, the entire West Bank security barrier will stretch 800 km., 450 km. of which are already complete. Another 45 km. are under construction, and 150 km. are under review by the High Court.