Palestinians freely crossing into Israel with Israeli Arab cooperation

Municipal council head says the security problem is due to the fact that the security barrier has not been completed.

West Bank security fence barrier wall settlement 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
West Bank security fence barrier wall settlement 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
Shlomi Langer, the head of the municipal council of Oranit, in western Samaria, said a threat to Israel’s security can be seen in the illegal crossing of Palestinians through an unfinished portion of the security barrier.
Langer, 51, grew up in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She’arim and has lived in Oranit for 23 years. Married with three children, he was elected to his post in 2008 after serving in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for 26 years.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Langer said he has complained to the army that there are many holes in the fence and that Palestinians are crossing in large numbers without checks. The army is not doing enough to deal with the issue, he said, and that there have been cases when his town’s security forces have captured an infiltrator, pass him to the army and he is just released later.
The Post witnessed Palestinians crossing into and out of Israel near the Jewish settlements of Oranit, Sha’arei Tikva and Elkana, which are located outside of the Green Line but inside the security barrier.
Close by, inside the Green Line, is the Israeli Arab city of Kafr Kasim, where many of the Palestinians congregate once they cross the fence.
For the most part, Langer says, they want to enter to work, but others are involved in criminal activity, and the area could be an access point where those involved in terrorism could enter the country.
Once they cross the barrier, drivers from Kafr Kasim pick them up and drive them to town. From there, they disperse all over the country to their places of work. In the evening, many workers cross back through the fence and return to their villages in the West Bank.
Langer believes that when the security barrier is finished it should largely solve the problem.
Langer notes that Kafr Kasim’s economy is greatly benefiting from the traffic. “They rent houses with 40-50 people staying there,” he said adding that additional income is gained by fees charged by the drivers.
In September 2012, Kafr Kasim resident Arkan Badir was indicted for murder after Lior Farhi, a security guard from Sha’arei Tikva, was killed in a hit-and-run. Badir was allegedly driving a van transporting Palestinians to illegally work in Israel.
Another related problem that Langer is trying to solve, is the problem that exists on the public buses. Many Palestinians, after crossing the fence, take buses into Tel Aviv, contributing to the overcrowding on the buses. People complain that on their return home from Tel Aviv the buses are full and that they must wait as two or three full buses go by. He believes the problem can be dealt with by increasing the amount of buses, but this is outside of his control.
There have also been reports of sexual harassment, according to Langer and other published reports. Using separate buses also is problematic, he says, as some complained that it resembled apartheid.
Another issue is the loudspeakers mounted on the minaret of mosques, which are used by muezzins for the call to prayer. The muezzin is the person who recites the call to prayer. The noise has drawn complaints from Jewish towns throughout the area, reaching as far as the city of Rosh Ha’ayin.
Langer states that there is a noise law, but that it is not fully enforced. The law is unenforced in many instances because there is a fear that enforcing it would stir up trouble, he said.
In Kafr Kasim, the problem has mostly been solved, he said noting that most of the mosques use the same sound system, broadcasting at a reasonable volume. He says there remain two mosques in the town, which are affiliated with the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, that refuse to use the system.
Langer says that for the most part, relations with the nearby Arab communities of Kafr Kasim and Kafr Bara are good and that a joint project to build an extreme sports park in a nearby forest is in the planning stages. Ever since the second intifada in 2000, relations have remained positive and Jews go to the towns to buy all kinds of goods.