Israel says only 3 percent of security fence will be concrete

Special to World
Thursday, February 5, 2004

JERUSALEM Israel's government has cited details of its controversial security fence and barrier project along and in the West Bank.

Israeli officials said the security system will largely consist of a chain-link fence that will form a strip the width of a four-lane highway. They said the fence will be bolstered by a range of sensors as well as security patrols.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry report on the security fence said it will span 720 kilometers. More than 97 percent of the fence will consist of a chain-link fence system.

"Less than three percent of the fence will be constructed of concrete," the report said. "The short concrete sections are intended not only to stop terrorists from infiltrating, but also to block them from shooting at Israeli vehicles traveling on main highways alongside the pre-June 1967 line, at nearby Jewish residential areas, and at other targets."

The report, released ahead of a planned hearing by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, said the fence will support an intrusion detection system. This advanced system, bolstered by a dirt path to track intruders, has been designed to warn against infiltrations.

In several locations, the report said, a concrete barrier will be erected because the barrier will move through urban areas. In these cases, a simple fence is impossible.

On Thursday, Israeli officials said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to present a proposal to President George Bush that offers the Israeli evacuation of the entire Gaza Strip and some of the West Bank in exchange for U.S. approval for the security fence to be erected inside the West Bank.

Officials said Sharon also wants Bush to endorse Israel's right to conduct massive retaliation for any Palestinian missile attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The Foreign Ministry report said the security fence has been placed along the old 1967 border or within the state of Israel. The report said no Palestinian will be relocated because of the fence.

In 2003, the report said, the number of Palestinian insurgency attacks dropped by 30 percent compared to the previous year. The report said in the area where the fence has been built five suicide attacks took place throughout last year. In areas that do not contain the fence, there was no drop in the number of suicide attacks.

"Already, the as yet uncompleted anti-terrorist fence has shown initial successes in thwarting terrorist efforts and reducing the overall number of successful terrorist attacks," the report said. "Some planned terror attacks were stopped because the terrorists were unable to bypass the fence. Once the fence will be completed, the terrorists will find conditions much more difficult for carrying out their murderous intentions."

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