Tuesday, September 07, 2004

IDF begins work on southern section of separation fence

Defense Ministry bulldozers, supported by security guards and a military jeep, began yesterday to prepare the ground for the construction of the southern section of the separation fence, in the Hebron Hills area.
The preparation work comes five days after Palestinian suicide bombers from the Hebron area carried out a terror attack in Be'er Sheva that killed 16 people.
Security sources confirmed that work had started on a 40-kilometer stretch of fence southwest of Hebron; but the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the work wasn't related to last week's attack. The bombing has put pressure on the government to speed up construction of the fence, which has been delayed by a series of legal challenges.

At this stage, the bulldozers are working on a six-kilometer segment, with the final route of the fence in the area yet to be agreed on. As published last week in Haaretz, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is at odds with some members of the defense establishment over the route of the southern section of the fence. Sharon wants the fence in the southern Hebron Hills area to be moved further to the north of the Green Line.

Security sources told Haaretz yesterday that in light of the delays in the construction of the fence, it is not expected to be completed before 2006."