Israel's security fence:
Bringing stability and the prospect of recovery to Jenin

London - published on 11 July 2004
Beyond Images Ref: 100

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The completion of the northern section of Israel’s security fence has dramatically improved security for Israel’s citizens in that area. As a result, residents of the nearby Palestinian Arab town of Jenin are enjoying new-found stability, much greater day-to-day freedom, and better economic prospects

According to an in-depth analysis published in the Jerusalem Post on 18 June 2004 (from which the information below is taken), the 30,000 Palestinian Arab residents of Jenin are among those who are directly benefiting from the construction of Israel’s security fence. Here are the key facts:

The northern section of Israel’s security fence has recently been completed. Prior to its construction, Israeli towns such as Afula and Hadera suffered many suicide bombings and other lethal attacks. According to the Israeli head of the local regional council, the number of attacks has dropped “from 600 to zero”.

Many of the worst Palestinian attacks originated from Jenin, which was known to Israelis as the “suicide capital” of the West Bank. Following 23 suicide attacks in the period between October 2000 and March 2002, Israel moved against the terrorists based in Jenin in April 2002. Because of the security fence, and other Israeli security measures, Jenin now no longer poses the same day-to-day threat to the lives of Israeli men, women and children.

According to a senior Israeli military officer, the decline in terror to what he describes as a “manageable level” has enabled Israel to remove “an entire system of roadblocks and checkpoints” within the Jenin district. Furthermore there is now no permanent Israeli military presence in Jenin.

These developments have brought stability and increased economic activity to Jenin. According to Hader Abu Sheikh, an official from the Palestinian Legislative Council, “the change is relative…. But the new-found freedom feels tremendous…”

Applications by merchants in Jenin for permits to trade in Israel are up by 1000%. “We have seen the beginning of a breakthrough”, says Ziad Mifleh, the Palestinian director of the Jenin Chamber of Commerce: “there are positive business indicators as people are starting to think of capital and investment and commerce again….”

Nightlife in Jenin has transformed, too: in the words of Abu Sheikh: “there is 70% more nightlife in Jenin than a year ago… We are talking about the resumption of traditional Palestinian nightlife… weddings, men sitting in cafes late at night, women visiting each other. The point is, people are no longer confined to their houses at night, because Israel has left the city…..”

To speed up movement to and from Israel for Jenin Palestinians, Israel is building a new terminal crossing, due for completion in September 2000. And if that goes well, plans are in place for a joint Israeli-Palestinian industrial zone which could provide jobs “for 10,000 Palestinians and 2,500 Israelis”, according to a senior Israeli district official.

The disruption which Israel’s security fence is causing to Palestinians is the subject of intense media attention and global criticism. And many Palestinians undeniably oppose the fence because of its negative impact on their lives. Yet it was Palestinian terror that brought the fence into being (see Beyond Images Briefing 73) and by reducing that terror, the fence is bringing other Palestinians (such as residents of Jenin) stability and better prospects for the future. The world is silent on this.