Good Fences: Enjoyable Fact Finding On the Seam Zone (Link Update)
Recharging the Zio-Battery
This Friday I was in the mood to do a little fence sitting so I headed out to the seam zone, better known as the area where Israel’s security fence & barrier is located (to protect Israelis from Palestinian terrorists). Also on my list was a desire to visit the new Haredi community of El’ad, which is also located on the seam line but in Israeli territory. I often cruise right on by El’ad usually when on the way to the Petach Tikva area or Kfar Saba, but I have never had the chance to visit the new community.
Since I was headed to the area specifically to visit the seam zone, this was an opportune time to visit and I’m glad I did. El’ad is beautiful. The entrance near the 444 (which cuts across Israel North to South in the area of the green line) is imposing & steeply raked, as El’ad sits a top the initial rolling hills of the Shomron. The entire community is built terrace style on these mountains and it’s fairly lovely. It doesn’t hurt that everything is brand new or still under construction. That being said it is also safe to say I stuck out somewhat like a sore thumb, because in the short time I spent touring around El’ad it was pretty obvious to one & all that everyone else was Haredi, baking in black suits under Israel’s unforgiving sun.. While I am an Old Navy wearing, dockers sporting little pisher.
I was particularly impressed in El’ad by the shuls. It’s hard to miss them, they are frequent and more are under construction. They are extremely beautiful, which is a small contrast to Tel Aviv in general. In the big city the synagogues are generally speaking more utilitarian than focal points of architecture or beauty. Beyond the fancy construction and freshness, El’ad benefits from a pretty nice view. I’ll have to go back sometime soon and check out the setting sun in the West, which is the direction the community generally faces because I have a sneaking suspicion it will be well worth it.
Just behind El’ad on the road through the seam zone into the Shomron & West Bank toward Beit Aryeh, I also saw some pretty cool Zahal (IDF) action. There’s what looks like a brand new military storage depot in the area and judging by the size of the garages they aren’t storing scooters.
Our Arab Brethren
Not too far from El’ad along the seam line lie some of the bigger Arab communities of the area. Some of them on the Israeli side of the green line like Jaljulia & Taybe, while others are just beyond the seam line like Qalqilya. Not wanting to be too much of a piece of drek, I’ll just say that Jaljulia & Taybe are not big tourist spots for non Arab Israelis – Despite the fact we are all citizens cruising through is a good way to look for trouble in general. In any case, my focus was more on the fence. Qalqilya specifically. What makes Qalqilya noteworthy is that it features the actual wall, as opposed to the fence that makes up the bulk of the barrier.
On CNN when you see or hear about the fence, you will invariably be looking usually at places like Qalqilya where the big imposing cement walls are. They leave out the part of ‘the wall being well over 90% fence’, in favor of the misrepresentation which looks better on TV that Israel has built mile high walls locking the Palestinians in. In slight defense of the Palestinians, in Qalqilya they are barriered in pretty good but hey, stuff happens. All around them on both sides of the seam line are Israelis, Jewish & Arab and Qalqilya’s residents have in the past enjoyed shooting at them in the name of ‘resistance’. Not too mention the fact that this is where the green line juts dangerously in toward mass population centers, only about 10 clicks from the Israeli Mediterranean coast.
Beyond being jolly neighbors, it is also where those responsible for some devastating suicide bombings (HAMAS) have been traced & arrested. As a result, Qalqilya enjoys the rare distinction of being walled up, with these portions of the fence being high cement barriers, complete with watchtowers & IDF patrols around these parts of the seam line. This is known as ‘Area A’, in other words Qalqilya is under the Palestinian Authority, not under catchy buzzwords like ‘occupation’. Despite the Palestinian Authority Jurisdiction. Hamas won in the most recent elections and the Mayor is a Hamas man. Charming stuff.
In theory, if I stow my Israeli Teudat Zeut (Citizenship ID) as a Canadian I can whip out my other passport & go into Palestinian ‘Area A’ areas as a ‘tourist’. That’s nice theory, as a responsible little Zionist I have neither the interest, nor the inclination to break the law however. Qalqilya has large walls around it for a reason, and by law (at the behest of both Israel & the PA) Israelis are not allowed into ‘Area A’ zones, it’s a good way to get killed. On occasion the more foolish accidentally find themselves in such situations usually on account of a wrong turn, they are often under immediate threat and Israelis in the situation have required authorities to come to the rescue lest they be lynched alive by ‘Peace Partners’.
Instead of playing poker with my life, after checking out Qalqilya from the ground I opted to get a more aerial view. The road to Alfei Menashe (an Israeli settlement in the Shomron just beyond the green line) is a good way to get such a view. The start of the mountains behind the Arab village of Jaljulia look down over Qalqilya & the general area & you can get a good view of the coastal plain as well from the area. Petach Tikva itself is mighty close by, clearly visible..
Security 1st, ‘Peace’ second
All of this brings home the security situation rather clearly. Some of the areas theoretically desired by the PA for Palestinian control beyond the seam line have high ground, with Israel’s population centers below. Israeli settlements, security fences, and patrols exist for a reason. While it is all fun & games for the American administration to talk about halts, growth and ripping up settlements.. The realities are clear enough if you go for a visit like the one I am describing as an example. Short range Katusha rockets from these places will put the bulk of Israel’s population in the area (3+ million people) under direct threat.
This is unacceptable. These are unfortunately the realities, peace talk is lovely but skipping ‘Demilitarization’ is not an option, compromises on security are n0t an option. If the Palestinians are serious about peace they will be serious about these realities as well, because they would threaten the ‘peace’ and bring war. So far, they have shown little inclination this is the case. Until then we’ll just have to politely tell the American President, thanks.. But no thanks.
Link Update: Common Ground
DG directs me to a previous Rick Richman post at Contentions, where similar territory is discussed along with perspective from Netanyahu’s point man Ron Dermer. This is fine company literally all around, I’ll take it.