Settlement Fires Security Chief Who Wanted Fence Built

How can a settlement without a fence be protected, and after Palestinians twice entered it in recent years explicitly to murder people?

How can a settlement without a fence be protected, and after Palestinians twice entered it in recent years explicitly to murder people? This issue has resulted in the dismissal of Yaki Morag, the veteran chief of security of the Bat Ayin settlement.

Bat Ayin, a small settlement in Gush Etzion, was established in 1989 by settlers wishing to establish a community with strict religious values. The residents are not allowed to have television sets or to buy German products. The settlement also includes a number of artists who used to be religious, but are now secular, along with leading intellectuals like Motti Karpel of Manhigut Yehudit - The Jewish Leadership Movement.

Bat Ayin
Nir Kafri

In 2002, the Shin Bet security service uncovered a Jewish underground in Bat Ayin, which included three members of the community: Ofer Gamliel, Shlomo Dvir and Yarden Morag. The three were convicted of attempting to place explosives at the entrance to a girls' school in East Jerusalem and were sentenced to prison terms.

Like other settlements with extremist ideologies, the members of Bat Ayin believe they should not have a fence around the community, for ideological reasons. They believe the right way to deal with the threat of terrorism is to attack it, rather than defend against it.

As a result, the task facing the settlement's chief of security is more complicated than in other communities. For over a decade, the job was held by Morag, who was paid a salary of NIS 6,000 per month.

Morag started out as a farmer, but then became religious and was one of the founders of the settlement. (He is also the father of Yarden Morag, one of the three convicted for their underground activities. )

Bat Ayin suffered two lethal attacks at the hand of Palestinians who entered the settlement, in February 2007 and in April 2009. Following these attacks, Morag repeatedly demanded that a fence be put up.

At Labor Court deliberations, following his dismissal, Morag said that "after the murder I sought to set up a fence around the community, and the debate was over where the fence would be set up. Without a fence, you cannot know who is still in the settlement, what he is doing in the settlement, or where he entered from. I raised the funds for the fence, but in discussions within the community it was turned down."

The community, he says, also restricted his ability to control the surrounding area. At that point he declared he was unable to provide security for the settlement under such conditions, and he was fired.

The community's secretariat did not respond to a Haaretz request for comment, but told the court that "the committee lost its confidence in Morag."