An updated estimate from the IDF indicates that the security fence surrounding the West Bank will only be completed in 2020.
On the one hand, many of the central sections have been completed, which will result in an additional decrease in human resources deployed in the area. On the other hand, a number of regions, mainly those near South Mount Hebron where ground has yet to be broken, are likely to become fertile ground for terrorist cells.
From the IDF's perspective, the good news is that in the upcoming year, the fence will be built up along the western route near the Jerusalem vicinity. By the end of 2010, there will be continuous fence from Tirat Zvi from the north, through Ein Yael to Metzudat Yehuda.
A senior IDF official said Tuesday that the fence has played a significant part in the decline in IDF companies deployed against terrorism. This upcoming year will see an additional decrease when the human resources deployed in the arena will reach a decade low. This will afford the IDF much more flexibility in training soldiers in the compulsory service and a reduction of reservist operational deployments.
The fence near Shufat in northern Jerusalem (Photo: Reuters)
The less encouraging news is that the entire fence project is not slated to be completed until 2020 – in other words, 18 years after the Sharon government decided to put it into action.
This includes all parameters, from the legal controversies, the problematic sections of the fence's route that will likely anger the US, budgetary issues, and even the understanding that a central part of the fence has already been completed – a point that is not universally agreed upon within the IDF.
Will Americans delay process?
The fence's route has undergone no small number of changes and corrections, some of which have already been made and other which are still being discussed in the High Court. Up until now, more than 500 km (about 310 miles) have been built. Another dozen or so kilometers will be completed by the end of the year.
But completing the entire length of the fence, which will stretch along some 810 km (about 503 miles), seems pretty far off.
The pace of building has slowed notably in the past two years, mainly due to budget problems and disputes with the American administration regarding sections meant to include the settlement blocs.
The IDF believes that delaying the construction of the fence in this area (which amounts to some 60 km, or 37 miles) will result in attempts by terrorist cells to send terrorists into Israel via this section, as occurred in the terrorist attack in Dimona in February 2008 that was dispatched from the South Mount Hebron region.