Did Delay in West Bank Fence Construction Let Terror Cell Slip Through?

High Court had delayed work on that segment due to a petition lodged on behalf of the 30,000 Palestinians who would have been penned in.

The gap in the separation fence in the Hebron Hills area, through which the terror cell uncovered Wednesday apparently entered, is the largest gap to adjoin a residential area. The hole extends for about 12 kilometers, from southern Jerusalem to the village of Jaba, south of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

West Bank separation fence graffiti AP Sept. 2, 2010

The delay in building the fence in this area apparently stems from a petition to the High Court of Justice. But Shaul Arieli, an expert on the fence from the Council for Peace and Security, claims that were the state determined to build the fence in this area, it could do so without any problem.

Two fences are actually slated for construction in the area, essentially to surround Gush Etzion on both sides. But such a fence would also pen in 30,000 Palestinians, who therefore lodged the High Court petition.

The court's last hearing on the issue was held in 2006. Four months ago, Supreme Court President Dorit Benisch asked the state whether it still intends to build a fence in the area, but the state has yet to respond to this inquiry.

Instead, the State Prosecutor's Office has repeatedly asked the court to extend its deadline for doing so. Currently, the state is supposed to supply its answer next week.

Jerusalem district police chief Aharon Franco said Wednesday that in recent years, the police and the Israel Defense Forces have had to devote a lot of resources to dealing with problems created by the gap in the fence.