IDF Expresses Unease Over Wildcat Security Patrols in West Bank
Escalating Palestinian shooting, firebombing and stoning attacks against Israeli motorists have prompted residents of one Jewish town to start their own road patrols, much to the chagrin of the IDF, NRG News said Tuesday.
Despite intense and long-term security coordination with the IDF, frustrated civilian security chiefs and residents of the northern Samarian town of Neve Tzuf in Binyamin took matters into their own hands last week, and sent out a group text message calling for volunteers.
Citing a “loss of sense of security,” the idea was to set up armed road patrols in shifts to cover the twisting, heavily-traveled two-lane roads, which are largely unlit and traverse hilly areas adjacent to several Palestinian villages, which offer attackers high-ground and easy escape routes.
Most of the volatile stretches, near Deir Nizam, Abbud, and Deir abu-Mashaal, are near-daily targets for firebombings and stone throwing, attacks which have injured many, caused accidents, and caused significant damage to both private vehicles and intercity buses.
The IDF, however, is unhappy with the residents’ conduct, to say the least. Military sources said officials were concerned that independent militias – not coordinated or approved by the relevant bodies – might take action engendering an even more volatile situation.
“Recently, due to the large number of events in the sector, many efforts are being made, both overt and covert, to strengthen the safety of local residents, including Neve Tzuf, and the Western Benjamin region,” the army said in response.
“Differences of opinion as to the proper course of action are discussed directly with the settlement, as has been done so far,” the IDF said.
Residents, for their part, said that as long as the community will have a sense of security on roads and the region, they will continue such operations, and even ratchet up their unauthorized steps.
On Thursday evening, hours after the first protest shift along the traffic arteries, residents met with regional brigade commander Col. Israel Shomer, who tried to convince them to stop the private security operation.
Tuesday night, residents were set to meet with Judea and Samaria Division commander Brig.-Gen. Tamir Yedai, in an attempt to get them to stop the independent security patrols.
Residents, in turn, argue that the question is not if, but when, there will be a major attack, and that, for them, the feeling was similar to the beginning of the second intifada in the early 2000s, when such attacks – many lethal – were an almost daily occurrence.
On Sunday, and last week, Israeli residents entered the outskirts of Deir, in hot pursuit of stonethrowers, and say they will likely continue the patrols, if the IDF does not provide them with solutions to the problem.