Photo: AP
From the West Bank too?
Photo: AP

Sharon region prepares for rockets

Residents, security planners in central region that borders that West Bank say they are preparing for the possibility of Qassam rocket and mortar fire

Residents in the Sharon region, which borders the West Bank, are preparing for the possibility of Qassam rocket attacks by terrorist groups following the evacuation of Gaza settlements.


The government has already been asked to construct a Red Dawn Qassam alert system, similar to the warning installation in place in Sderot. The security establishment has also not ruled out the possibility of rocket fire from the West Bank.


Sharon Azrieli, head of local security in Sharon, told Ynet that “two weeks ago, a meeting of security officers in Sharon was held together with Sharon’s police chief Menashe Arbiv. Following the meeting, security officers presented us with a scenario according to which Qassam rockets could be fired at us from (neighboring) Tuk Karem and Qalqilia.”


“Sitting on the border”


Towns and cities in the Sharon area are situated close to, and in many cases right on, the border with the West Bank. Palestinian Authority controlled Qalqilia is clearly visible from Kfar Saba and Hod Hashron, and Tul Karem can be easily discerned from Netanya.


One of the largest towns on the border with the West Bank is Bat Hefer, which has been previously targeted by terrorists firing from PA administered territory.


The eastern side of the town has been fortified with a wall to block gunfire at residents, but the defensive measure would be ineffective against mortars and Qassam rockets.


“A Qassam rocket has already fallen in the area (it landed in agricultural land),” said Azrieli. “That means this scenario is not just hypothetical,” he added.


“A warning system would be very useful, as it has been demonstrated repeatedly in Ofakim. That’s why I asked the ministers to install such a system in Kfar Saba, Hod Hasrhon, Raanana, and Kohav Yair. It’s better to be aware of the potential danger and not to ignore it,” said Azrieli.


The Emek Regional Council contains fifty towns and villages, all of which are in range of Qassam rocket fire from the West Bank. Nahum Itzkovitch, head of the Council, said that the media should not be discussing such scenarios, to avoid hysteria.


“All security related issues should be weighed on their own merit, and these should not be brought up explicitly in the press,” he said.


"I trust the IDF"


“Professionals should be consulted on security matters, meaning the Defense Ministry and the IDF. We live in a country where there are dangerous scenarios on the roads, from terrorist attacks, and even from drinking the water. One of those scenarios is the firing of rockets, but I trust the IDF.”


But Azrieli does not think that the installation of alert systems would create public panic. “We are talking about a mature and strong population, and it will quickly manage to get used to the presence of alert systems without getting scared,” he said.


"These are not long range missiles with capabilities of frightful destructive power. They are only dangerous if they fall on the street next to the residents. 15 second is enough time to leave the street and enter a safe area like a stairwell or a secure structure. It’s not necessary to go into bombshelters, these rockets can’t pierce the roofs of concrete apartment buildings, and therefore there is no fear that they will cause panic."


Kfar Saba’s mayor, Yehuda Ben Hamo, said, “The problem of Qassam rockets is a problem faced by all of the towns and cities in central Israel, not just by Kfar Saba. Our job is to provide residents with services at all times, including emergency situations, and that’s what we’ll do.”


Doron Sheffer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 09.09.05, 12:14
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