Friday, September 08, 2006

Israel's Virtual (and real) Fences & Walls

It never seems to end. There is a division, "Us" on one side, "Them" on the other, and yet "They" cannot stay on their side of the fence. Just as bad as any neighbor on your quiet, residential street who insists on coming over to annoy you when they smell your BBQ firing up, the "Palestinians" cannot seem top just stay on their side of the line. Ever. Anywhere. No matter where or how the line or lines are drawn. They are not interested in lines. They are only interested in killing every last Israeli until there are none left. Period.

In defense of this single-minded hatred and refusal to adopt decent and legal means of separation, Israel has spent hundreds of millions on defense systems, the latest being 'virtual fences' around Jewish civilians living near Hebron, one of the few remaining "mixed" areas in the tiny State of Israel.

The high-tech laser radars would be part of a new NIS 400 million (about USD 91.2 million) allocation by the Israeli government for security systems at settlements, such as the one at Hebron. The state-of-the-art Hebron defense system would be part of a second phase hi-tech settlement security project carried out by the IDF; NIS 300 million (about USD 68.4 million) was already spent on phase one over the past year and a half. This is an inordinate expense, but is it worth it? Probably.

The systems used until now are based on an array of advanced radar systems, created by Motorola, and operate together with thermal cameras. The radar systems are set up around the settlements to detect Palestinians attempting to infiltrate the communities for purposes of committing terrorist acts against the civilian residents.

The thermal cameras automatically home in on the intruder, whom they follow until an IDF or local security team arrives at the scene. In areas where the system has been installed, the IDF reports it has reduced its presence by 50% due to the drop in the infiltration threat.

In May 2005, Har Bracha - a Samaria community infiltrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists - became the first settlement to receive the radar security system. Since then, dozens of additional settlements have had it installed, with some communities receiving over 30 radar stations.

The Hebron Jewish community, because it is spread across several sites in the city, poses a particular security challenge, which is to be met in part by innovative use of a newly created laser-radar system. The radar-based system proposed to be installed in the Hebron area is designed to warn soldiers or security guards in the settlement of the incoming Palestinian terrorists long before they are even close to the perimeter of the settlement.

Anyone wishing to enter the area legally, may do so unharmed. The system detects clandestine or more to the point, illegal movements which are assumed to be for hostile purposes. How's that saying go? People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

The current and planned security fence effort is headed by Lt.-Col. Roni Yitah, a former Engineering Corps officer. To date the project has created highly advanced security systems in 47 settlements, mostly isolated and far away from the Green Line.
Every settlement, Yitah explained, receives a different security system - some include radar systems while others are protected by cameras and electronic fences.

"Every system is tailored to fit the specific needs of the settlement," he said. The system has to fit the topography of the settlements and work together with the Palestinian neighbors while allowing them to continue working in fields they own sometimes right alongside Jewish communities, he said.

Whether or not even virtual fences can stop the terrorists remains as yet to be seen.


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