Sunday, February 26, 2006

In the Alleyways of Balata

This is my very short summary and translation of excerpts from Hodaya-Karish Chazoni's article of the same name in this week's Makor Rishon newspaper, found in the Weekly Diary section, February 24, 2006 - 25th of Shvat, 5766.

Chazoni describes some of the successes of the large IDF operation called "Northern lights" which took place in Schem (Nablus) and the Balata refugee camp. The first night of the operation two terrorists were killed while setting up roadside explosives. The second night seven wanted men were captured, including one thought to be the head of Islamic Jihaad in Schem. A Fatah operative who was involved in planning the latest terrorist attack in Tel-Aviv was killed. During the third day of the operation soldiers discovered an extensive cache of explosives in the casbah.

There hasn't been an operation of this size since 2002 - in the past four years the IDF would only go into Schem sporadically to apprehend a specific fugitive. The decision to launch this operation now came about because of a number of factors, Chazoni writes. There has been an increase in the terrorist activity launched from the city. This has occurred because of successful IDF operations elsewhere, specifically in the northern Shomron which have "smothered" the terrorist infrastructure there. There is also an attempt by Fatah to improve their standing on the street, which has been damaged by their loss in the latest elections.

The method that the soldiers use to apprehend and kill the terrorists is by ambush and sniper fire, Chazoni explains, not an easy task in the crowded conditions of the refugee camp. She quotes the commander who accompanied her this way:

"Our method is basically ambush by snipers. In an urban environment like this one we must be extremely precise and guided by intelligence information."

Chazoni visits one of the sniper positions and describes what she sees. The sniper is stationed at a window with his weapon pointed downward into the alley. He has permission to shoot at anyone armed that passes underneath him, and his gaze doesn't waver for a second. The snipers are rotated every two hours. Across the alleyway the reporter sees a woman and a child staring at them from the window, partially hidden by the laundry lines. The commander adds this remark:

"The curious are a big problem. A kid stands there for hours, and suddenly a fugitive appears behind him. It drives me crazy that they use the children like that."

Hearing this comment, the woman across the alleyway looks at them with loathing.

To read the full article, and others click here. This will bring you to the Makor Rishon website in Hebrew.

(A note to American readers. A reporter from American or European countries who wants to write an article of this sort must leave his family for an extended period of time, and travel far to a war zone. Israel is such a tiny country, that this reporter needed to make no such sophisticated arrangements. The distance from the newspaper office in Tel-Aviv to this war zone is a matter of a drive of less than an hour.)


Blogger Unknown said...

Wow. It's too bad such an article would never make a large paper in the US or Europe.

5:39 PM, February 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's worse is that they actually try to apprehend terrorists in such a fashion. Putting soldiers lives in unneccesary danger is unwise when a missle is so much more effective and safe for the soldiers.

7:55 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

ezzie - yes, it would be great if this type of article was published in America

tovya - it's a complicated issue.

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