Israel razes security wall facing Palestine region


Jerusalem : Israel Sunday began dismantling a concrete security barrier in a southern Jerusalem neighbourhood facing Palestinian National Authority areas.

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The move came after the army concluded that the near decade-long threat of sniper and mortar fire at Israeli residents in the hilltop neighbourhood of Gilo had ended, Xinhua reported.

Soldiers and workers began removing 800 concrete segments covering almost 600 metres along a tree-lined ridge in Gilo facing Beit Jalla, which is adjacent to Bethlehem and under PNA control. The project will take about two weeks to complete.

Israel erected the barrier in 2002 after a string of near-daily sniping and mortar attacks into the 30,000-resident Israeli neighbourhood.

Palestinian snipers and mortar crews would commandeer shooting positions – sometimes against the residents’ will – in homes and churches in the largely Christian-Arab village, and fire across the steep ravine at pedestrians, schools and homes in the Israeli area.

The attacks on Gilo caused several casualties and damage on both sides.

The Israeli Army erected a tank position facing Beit Jalla and helicopters hovered over the vicinity to fire combined tank shells and machine gun fire back at the gunmen. Dramatic exchanges were common, and echoes of the explosions and shooting could be heard around the clock across both Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Later agreements between the two sides on the political, municipal, military and tactical level served to lower tensions, leading to Sunday’s activity, which some analysts also view as an Israeli goodwill gesture towards the PNA, the report said.