Army spotters count wild animals on both sides of security fence
IDF may create special passages in West Bank security fence to allow migration of wild animals
Israeli army spotters have a new job - counting wild animals on both sides of Israel's West Bank security fence, helping naturalists to assess the problems caused by the huge structure, an army publication reported.
The spotters, all female soldiers, logged 500 sightings of animals along the northern section of the fence in recent weeks. Regular spotter duty, in contrast, includes looking out for attempts to infiltrate into Israel from the West Bank.
Israel started construction of the fence in 2001 after a wave of Palestinian suicide bombers infiltrated from the West Bank and blew themselves up in Israeli cities. Though it is only about two-thirds complete, the fence has drastically reduced the rate of bombings. Palestinians complain that the barrier is built on West Bank land, cutting some villagers off from their fields and services.
One of the finished sections is in the northern part of the West Bank, across from the Palestinian towns of Qalqiliya and Tulkarm, where the animal studies took place.
Nature experts have warned that the barrier, made up of concrete walls, trenches and barbed wire, could interfere with migration patterns of wild animals in the area. They proposed small openings in the barrier to allow animals to cross.
Gathering information for the Israeli Society for the Preservation of Nature, the spotters logged 500 appearances of deer, wild boars, porcupines and hedgehogs.
Along with documenting activity along the barrier, the logs showed a sharp increase in the wild boar population in the area, coinciding with complaints from farmers about destruction of crops.