Samaria residents protest: ‘IDF isn’t doing enough against terror on the roads’

“Driving on the roads here has turned into Russian roulette,” said one of the demonstrators.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Dozens of residents of western Samaria demonstrated Wednesday night at the Yakir junction against the dangerous situation on the roads after suffering a particularly large number of attacks in the last two days.

Over 15 rock- and Molotov cocktail-throwing incidents were recorded during a 48-hour period, with heavy damage caused to cars, including smashed windshields, and several people getting injured. But residents said that they suffer such attacks on a regular basis, and the army is simply not doing enough to stop this Palestinian Arab terrorism.

Omer Baruch, who lives in Yakir, said those living in the bloc of settlements in the area came out to demonstrate because they “feel that driving on the roads here has turned into Russian roulette,” and they were fed up with the situation.

“On every trip in the region we are constantly looking to our left and right to figure out where the next rock will come from. It’s already impossible to travel safely with our children,” he said.

He noted that this protest was one of many in recent weeks in the region, in a bid to “take responsibility for our security” as “the army isn’t doing enough, the regional council isn’t doing enough,” and “we can’t let this situation continue.”

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Baruch said that the IDF has responded to the pressure of the residents’ “nightly demonstrations.”

“The army regained its composure and is now going and blocking the entrances to the villages where the terror is coming from – something they didn’t do before,” he said. “The protests have, thank God, worked to get things going out in the field and we intend to continue the struggle until there are zero terror attacks. We will not accept even one more rock.”

In other protests in Samaria, some involving hundreds of residents, the civilians themselves have bodily blocked the entrances to places, such as Huwara, where terrorists have recently gone on shooting sprees on the roads, presenting an even greater danger to drivers than bricks and gasoline-filled bottles.

The army has often tried to prevent demonstrations by ordering that the specific area be temporarily declared a closed military zone. Soldiers have also broken up protests, sometimes violently.

Makor Rishon obtained video evidence Monday of several protestors holding a silent prayer vigil near the Huwara checkpoint, when a Border Police unit standing several meters away suddenly begins shooting gas grenades to disperse them. At least one shoving match between a civilian and soldier was seen as well.

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In another incident, some two weeks ago, Moshe Fuah, a teacher, got out of his car at an intersection leading to Shechem (Nablus), where the IDF has gone on almost nightly arrest raids due to the number of terrorists living there, to record himself calling on friends to demonstrate on that road in the evening.

The soldiers standing there “beat me up,” he said to Makor Rishon. “They took my phone and agreed to return it to me only after they deleted the video I took.”

The IDF responded that in this case, the “citizen arrived… during an operational activity by the IDF forces, obstructed traffic and endangered himself and passers-by. The force asked the citizen to vacate the road, and when he did not respond, the soldiers distanced the civilian from the road.”

The army also defended its soldiers’ actions in the gas grenade incident, saying that the video did not show the whole story.

“This is a group of worshipers who passed without permission through a military checkpoint leading to the city of Nablus, which is defined as a forbidden and dangerous area for Israelis to enter. They were removed only after they refused the fighters’ request to move back and with the aim of preserving their safety.”