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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Which side (of the fence) are you on?

"The army will not allow anyone to harm the fence or cross it"
JPost: A senior IDF officer warned on Tuesday that soldiers may be forced to shoot live bullets again at demonstrators seeking to harm the security fence.

"If they have no choice, soldiers may be forced to shoot using live bullets at those seeking to damage the fence," the officer said.

The officer noted that recent Palestinian media reports mentioned the growing cooperation between locals and protest groups affiliated with the Left planning to step up protests at the security fence.

The army will not allow anyone to harm the fence or cross it the officer said, noting that the erection of the fence cost millions of dollars of the taxpayers money and signs posted in three languages posted near the fence warn residents.

His statements came less then a day after the army published the findings of an investigation launched by the OC Central Command to examine the circumstances that led to the shooting and subsequent wounding of Gil Na'amati ten days ago in a demonstration near Mas'ha where protesters attempted to tear the fence down.

Describing the current situation as problematic, the senior officer said "as far as I am concerned we are not talking about a protest, but violent clashes intent on harming the fence."

"There were no attempts to acquire the necessary permission to hold the protest and there were no attempts to identify themselves as Israelis. There was one sign written in Hebrew, but it was one among slogans and PLO and PFLP flags," the senior officer said.

The officer noted that a day before the protest, the suicide bomber who perpetrated the attack at the Geha intersection set out from the area where the protest occurred. Two days after the protest, two terrorists en route to perpetrate an attack were caught by security forces in the same area.

Details of the investigation released shortly before midnight Monday found no fault with the soldiers' behavior and treatment of the incident and that they and their commanders acted in accordance to the open fire regulations applicable in areas near the security fence.

Israeli settlers sing a song together, during a small rally in support
of the Israeli separation barrier project, in the Israeli settlement of Elqana,
Israel, Friday, Jan. 2, 2004. The controversial security barrier Israel is
building is made up of concrete walls, razor wire, fences and trenches
and is meant, according to Israel, to keep suicide bombers out. Many
Palestinians condemn the barrier, which dips deep into the West Bank
in some areas. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)