The Israel Defense Forces plans to remove the Hawara and Beit Fourik checkpoints due to successful negotiations with the Palestinians, the Ma'an news agency reported Saturday, saying this was the Palestinian Authority's biggest achievement recently.
Jabrin El-Bachri, governor of the West Bank city of Nablus, was quoted as explaining that removing the checkpoints in the city was a product of "eight months of negotiations with Israeli
The IDF was quick to deny any plan to take down the barriers. A military official clarified on Saturday that the only plan they have was to redeploy the troops, something which is done "now and then."
He added that "the soldiers don't constantly stay at one place for a long time."
The IDF official did say, however, that once the deployment process is completed, "security checks at the location will lessen somewhat and according to the professional discretion of the appropriate ranks."
Palestinians at Hawara checkpoint (Photo: AP)
Hawara checkpoint is considered one of the most central and well-known barriers in the territories. It was built over a decade ago in an attempt to prevent smuggling of explosive belts and weapons from Nablus which were intended for terror attacks in Israel.
In the last couple of years many checkpoints in the Nablus area were opened almost entirely, while the soldiers on location conduct random checks of vehicles or workers only based on intelligence information.
At this point, removing the checkpoints is merely a report, though it seems to be stirring up objections on behalf of settlers in the area.
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said he believed the plan reflects "irresponsibility and profligacy when it comes to security, which the citizens and soldiers on both sides of the green borderline will pay for with their lives."
"I call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
to intervene and stop the defense minister's irresponsibility and profligacy," said Mesika. "We warn and cry out – dozens of terrorists and dozens of explosive belts were caught at these two checkpoints which were intended to harm Israel. I hope these reckless plans will not be carried out."
A member of Machsom Watch, a group of Israeli women who monitor Palestinian at Israeli checkpoints, said in response to the report: "For as long as this checkpoint has existed and the millions that were spent on upgrading it, there are not enough words to describe the humiliations and abuse the Palestinians in the area have endured. Removing this checkpoint is a sign of triumph for our battle against the occupation and of deep sorrow for those lost year when it existed."