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Next to the "Fence" by Victor Is. Eliezer*, a conversation with Danny Tirza, Commander of the unit that built the "Fence" which separates Israel from the Palestinian Authority territories Print E-mail
Monday, 17 December 2018 11:51
From the neighborhood of Gilo, built on a hill, one of the first districts the Israelis have built in Eastern Jerusalem after the six day war in 1967, one can easily spot the imposing church of Saint Nicholas, just some meters away from the refugee camps of Beit Jalla and El Aydah, which seem to have been built like real cities. Just there, together with 25 journalists from Europe, North and South America we met Danny Tirza, a retired Israeli Army colonel, who was the Commander of the unit that built the "Fence" which separates Israel from the Palestinian Authority territories.

The way to the "Fence"

Colonel Tirza has served in the army for thirty years and was part of the negotiations with the Palestinians for the transformation of the refugee camps into dwellings. Consequently, in the aftermath of Oslo Accords, he participated in the technical negotiations during the Camp David summit, in summer 2000, convened by Bill Clinton for the signature of the final agreement between Israeli PM Ehud Barak and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

It was there when I met Yasser Arafat at first. He came to embrace me, as he usually did: “No kissing, but working together”, I told him and we started to chart maps. Ever since the Palestinians called me by a nickname, "Abu Harita" which means "the father of the maps", colonel Tirza assured. He described how these negotiations were blown to pieces: "We had concluded with the mapping. Barak conceded to Arafat 94% of the lands on the West bank, on the Jordan river, the whole of Gaza strip and gave him sovereignty on the Holly Mosques of Jerusalem. That was to say the totality of the lands Israel occupied during the 1967 war and were previously ruled by Jordan and Egypt. Clinton asked Arafat to sign. Arafat left for consultations and came back three hours later declaring that he could not sign without the approval of the other Arab states. Clinton blasted him and the big chance for peace was lost. In September 2000, everything changed as the intifada started". 

There, in Gilo, Danny Tirza showed us how the Palestinians were shooting during the night against the residents of the neighborhood and their apartments and all the precautions the Israelis were taking by placing shatterproof panes in their windows. "At that time discussions about separation started. Barak's government believed that terrorism could be fought only by using military means and that there was still a probability for the Palestinians to agree. The suicide attacks, though, provoked numerous casualties for our people who felt extremely unsecured. We were going to our jobs, the kids were going to school and nobody knew if we would meet all together back home at night. In 2005, an explosion occurred in Jerusalem, harming 13 children. Ariel Sharon, who was at that time prime minister rushed to the bomb site. He was shocked at the image of the dead children and their dismembered corpses. On that day Sharon ordered the Chief of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to build a security fence which would protect the Israeli citizens from any terrorist attack".

 The "Fence"

Danny Tirza assumed the command of the fence construction unit. We walked alongside the fence. This is a wall made out of concrete, it has 45 centimeters of width and nine meters of height, on my left hand, just before passing Rachel's tomb. There are no live wires overhead but cameras and motion sensors along the whole fence, which is 726 kilometers long. Whenever someone attempts to cross it, a signal is immediately sent and the security forces rush to the point. In a distance of 5 meters, on the Israeli side a three meter high wire rail is extended, constituting an additional obstacle for anyone that could surmount the fence. Since 2007, when the fence's construction was concluded, 28 control and passing points for Palestinians willing to enter Israel were created, known as checkpoints. 120.000 Palestinians are passing every day through these points to Israel. Colonel Tirza strengthens that this fence does not bind the setting out of the borders between Israelis and Palestinians in the frame of a peace agreement. "The world has to understand that this is a fence for the protection of the Israeli citizens. From 2002 to 2007, 1562 Israeli citizens were victims of terrorist attacks. Since 2007, when the construction of the fence was concluded, till today we have had 39 victims from terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, I would like to be the first man to knock down the first wall of the fence, when the peace treaty will be signed". 

*Victor Isaak Eliezer, journalist, correspondent of Yedioth Achronoth daily, in Greece

SOURCE:, 13.12.2018




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