Confidence Building at Work…

Jun 19, 2008 Published under Israel, Middle East, Mideast Negotiations, Palestine

IDF To Remove West Bank Roadblocks as ‘Reward’ for Efforts to Clamp Down on Militants

JERUSALEM POST, Yaakov Katz, Jun 17 2008

The Civil Administration in the West Bank has negotiated a deal with a number of Palestinian villages in the Kalkilya region in which dirt roadblocks cutting off their access to nearby cities and roads would be lifted in exchange for the cessation of local terror activity, a senior IDF commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

The deal so far includes the villages of Azun and Marda, both – until recently – hotbeds of Palestinian terror activity. The ongoing negotiations will mainly involve the areas along Highway 5, which connects Tel Aviv with the settlement of Ariel, and Road 55, which runs from Kfar Saba to Nablus.

Over the past year, residents of Azun and Marda have been responsible for over 25 monthly attacks along the two roads involving stone throwing and Molotov cocktails. In November, 29-year-old Ido Zoldan was gunned down on Road 55 near the Palestinian village of al-Punduk. A few months ago, an IDF soldier was wounded when he was shot by terrorists as he stood at a hitchhiking post on Highway 5 outside Ariel.

IDF troops regularly raided the villages and while they succeeded in minimizing attacks, it came at the cost of disrupting the lives of the 15,000 people living there.

"Each time the troops entered the villages, shops would close down and schools would be disrupted," said Lt.-Col. Samir Amar, commander of the IDF’s Coordination and Liaison Administration in the Kalkilya region.

Amar met with the elders in the villages and convinced them it was in their interest to crack down on the youths behind the attacks. The IDF also decided to permit the deployment of some 20 armed Palestinian Authority policemen inside the villages to prevent additional attacks.

"We told them that if they stopped the attacks we would ease restrictions on the villages," Amar said Tuesday from outside the village of Azun, located on Road 55. "Since then, there has not been a single incident in the past month and a half."

Following the crackdown in the village, the IDF removed three dirt roadblocks allowing villages to reach Kalkilya within 10 minutes, as opposed to the 45 minutes it took before

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