While direct talks languish, the Israel Defense Forces have found a way to minimize friction between soldiers and the Palestinians. After years in which residents of the territories had to present entry permits and IDs on the way to work in Israel, the IDF has prepared a "soldier-free" entry procedure.
Soldiers will soon be replaced by electronic terminals checking the Palestinians by hand prints.
A military source involved in the project said the IDF-made devices will shorten the time Palestinians spend in checkpoints and create a "more pleasant atmosphere."
The new system, which greatly resembles the biometric passport control at the Ben-Gurion Airport, "speaks" Arabic with the users. After identifying the hand print and checking personal details on an electronic card the system quickly authorizes entry into Israel.
"A new situation has emerged in the territories with the creation of the security fence. The importance of mainatianing the Palestinian citizens' quality of life has become more heightened," the source explained.
He also noted that some 25,000 workers from the territories enter Israel every day.
Electrnic checkpoints. 'Making passage more pleasant' (Photo: Hanan Greenberg)
"Up until now, one would have needed to visit a manned post, present an ID and wait for the soldier's entry permit. We realized a change was needed and that's how the project was conceived," the military source noted.
A few electronic posts have already been placed at some of the crossings between Israel and the West Bank as part of the pilot program.
"We tested the device's function and found it to be extremely user-friendly, shortening lines and rendering the crossing more pleasant," he noted.
"We also added a device at the entry into Israel for those returning from Palestinian cities, which increases our ability to accurately control the traffic of those coming in and those going out."
In light of the project's success Central Command Chief Avi Mizrahi has recently approved the installation of 12 electronic control terminals in checkpoints around the Green Line as early as next year. The IDF plans on equipping those terminals with other ID programs, including facial print checks.
"The system is coded and can receive data in real time. If we have information suggesting that an entry pass should be revoked the system is immediately informed," the source said.
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