Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Security Fence

Photo (c)Ynet

This Postcard from Israel was originally written on 14 February 2004.

All this hullabaloo over something as simple as a fence. I would guess that most of the people who read this have a fence separating their property from their neighbor's. Why is that? Are you and your neighbor enemies? Is he trying to kill you? Probably not. That cannot, however, be said about the situation here. The fence is being built here in Israel to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks.

Does that seem hard to believe? A bit melodramatic, perhaps? Check out the website I mention below to learn more. The Palestinians like to say we are construcing a WALL, along the lines of the Berlin Wall. This is simply not true. In the places where the barrier is more solid than what you see in the photo above, there have been incidents of sniper attacks on Israeli citizens. A simple wire fence cannot stop bullets. Again, protection for Israelis.

No matter what other motives may lie behind the construction of the security fence, surely we would all agree that preserving human life is more important than any other consideration. It has already been clearly established that the existence of the fence has prevented numerous terrorist attacks. Some may feel that alert action on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces would accomplish the same thing. I wonder if the rest of the world realizes exactly how many official warnings there are, every day, of specific plans for attacks to be carried out in Israel. The world only hears about the successful attacks, and based on those numbers it seems catching would-be suicide bombers shouldn't be too hard. Wrong.

Every day there are between 40 to 50 warnings of known plans for attacks to be carried out. Israel is a tiny country, but the border that needs to be guarded to prevent these attacks stretches along hundreds of kilometers. The task is so enormous, that the regular police force of many cities must also participate in the effort to prevent attacks. This leaves them with limited hours and personnel for fighting crime.

Of course there are problems with the fence. The path it follows sometimes divides villages, or separates a farmer from his fields. Interviews with people thus affected by the security fence appear regularly on the radio and television. These are difficulties that can, with cooperation and reasoning, be worked out. But instead of these two qualities, we have protests, vandalism, even an attempt to sue Israel in the World Court over the security fence. We do not ask terrorists to walk across the border and blow us up. Not taking the simple step of contructing a fence to prevent those attacks would be absurd. Those who (as the Palestinians do) dismiss the whole purpose of the fence as "evil" are really saying that the goal of preventing the deaths of innocent people trying to go about their lives is an evil goal.

I'm afraid I cannot agree with them.

Learn more about why Israel needs a security fence.

(c) Amy Samin

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