Police Official: Gap in W. Bank Barrier Is Calling Out to Bombers

Southern District Police Chief says he thinks Dimona suicide bombers entered Israel through 10-km. gap in fence.

Police Southern District commander Uri Bar Lev said Wednesday that the 10-kilometer gap in the separation fence between Israel and the southern part of the West Bank is "calling out to terrorists."

Bar Lev spoke before the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee following a suicide bombing in Dimona on Monday in which one woman was killed and 11 people were hurt. "Every day, thousands of Palestinians enter [Israel] without supervision through the gap in the wall. The suicide bombers in Be'er Sheva two and three years ago came in through this gap, as did the bombers two days ago in Dimona. It is imperative to obstruct the passageway," Bar Lev said, adding that Israel has knowledge of additional planned attacks in the area.

David Cohen, head of the southern district in the Interior Ministry, said that the 10 missing kilometers in the fence on southern Mount Hebron were specifically authorized, and in fact, there is no reason not to complete that section of the wall. According to Cohen, there are entire sections where foundations have already been laid and are waiting to be built, but there is a sense of exhaustion within the establishment. A plan to complete a section of the fence near Eilat was submitted after a suicide bombing in the city last January, but Cohen said that the plan was not pushed forward and it appeared that the state "became tired."

In regard to building a fence to separate Israel from Egypt, Cohen said that the government hasn't even submitted a plan.

The chairman of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said that "all the terror roads lead to the south." According to Pines-Paz, Israel's government must change its priorities. The Knesset committee called upon the government to immediately allot a budget for the completion of the 10-kilometer gap.

Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen said that the issue of the gap in the fence is a hot topic in every Dimona home and hovers over the city. "Only a determined decision taken by Israel's government that will be translated into action will make Be'er Sheva and Dimona residents feel safer," Cohen said. "We don't have the time or the desire to get bogged down in the mire of self pity and helplessness. The city is strong and we are not operating with a feeling of weepiness."