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IDF against ease of restrictions on Palestinians
While army prepares to implement political echelon's orders to remove 27 West Bank roadblocks, senior military officials warn of terror organizations taking advantage of breach in order to carry out attacks
Voices were heard Monday evening in the Israel Defense Forces against the comprehensive plan to ease restrictions on the Palestinians.


The plan was approved Monday afternoon during a discussion held at the prime minister's office, which was attended by senior defense establishment officials. It includes the removal of 27 roadblocks, a change in the criteria for the passage of people and good through crossings and an ease of restrictions on VIPs and international organizations.


Senior officials in the IDF, however, told Ynet on Monday evening that the ease of restrictions, mainly in the West Bank, should be carried out in a gradual and cautious manner.


According to the sources, incidents in which terror organizations took advantage of the ease of restrictions in order to carry out attacks have already occurred in the past.


"We all hope that a terror attack will not take place as a result of this ease of restrictions, which will make the entire relief basket irrelevant," said one of the officers.


IDF officials, however, made it clear that the army would implement all the political echelon's decisions. Before each operation in the field, the military will hold an evaluation of the situation, following which the operations will be carried out in practice.


'No significant danger'

And while the IDF was preparing to carry out the decision, while carefully criticizing the move, Major General (res.) Danny Rothschild, chairman of the Council for Peace and Security, told Ynet that "the people of Israel can take such a risk if they want to bolster Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas)."


According to Rothschild, "This does not constitute a significant danger, because the terrorists are not seeking to pass through roadblocks and are anyway looking for baypass roads."


He added that the release of prisoners should not constitute a problem as well and could take place as part of the agreement.


The IDF and the defense establishment recently implicitly and directly criticized a different political decision – to continue the restraint policy in spite of the ongoing firing of rockets at Israel.


In all the security discussions held recently, senior IDF officials and Defense Minister Amir Peretz voiced their opinion that the existing equation must be changed and that the army must operate specifically against Qassam cells.


In the meantime, however, the IDF continues to operate according to the political echelon's order not to respond.


The defense establishment fears that the ongoing fire from the Gaza Strip will lead to casualties, which will force Israel to change its pattern of operation, and therefore believes that the army should operate now rather than wait for a situation in which Israel will have operate in response to a severe incident taking place.


Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Meir Indor, director of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, expressed his doubts over Major General (res.) Rothschild's remarks.


"The entire principle of blocking terrorists is built on blocking the main roads by roadblocks and channeling the terrorists into the stream areas and bypass roads, where it is easier to attack them as there is no population or traffic which they can assimilate into."


According to Indor, the roadblocks have proved their efficiency in thwarting terror attacks in the past.


First published: 12.25.06, 22:18
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