IDF installs fortification at West Bank bus stop, swiftly removes it amid uproar
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IDF installs fortification at West Bank bus stop, swiftly removes it amid uproar

Right-wing lawmakers blast erection of concrete structure at Givat Assaf Junction, intended to protect soldiers and civilians, as a ‘surrender to terrorism’

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

A protective barrier installed at a bus stop at the Givat Assaf Junction on March 20, 2019. (Menachem Bakush)
A protective barrier installed at a bus stop at the Givat Assaf Junction on March 20, 2019. (Menachem Bakush)

Right-wing lawmakers and settler leaders raised an instant clamor Wednesday over the installation of a protective fortification at a central West Bank bus stop, leading the IDF to take it down and say no additional such defensive enclosures would be erected beyond the Green Line.

The decision came roughly two hours after a photo of the three-walled fortified structure at the Givat Assaf Junction was posted to Twitter, leading to a flood of statements opposing the measure.

Images from the scene showed the fortification being removed by a crane.

New Right party co-chair Naftali Bennett called the barrier “a surrender and submission to terrorism.”

“This is what the response to the Givat Assaf terror attack looks like by a country that is slowly losing its national self-respect,” tweeted Union of Right Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz.

The IDF removes a protective barrier installed at a bus stop at the Givat Assaf Junction on March 20, 2019. (Elchanan Scharia)

“We must move from containment to attack mode. From defense to enacting sovereignty [in the West bank],” he added.

Har Hebron Regional Council head Yochai Damri called the fortification “absurd.”

“Instead of being tough and expelling the families of the terrorists, we are hiding behind walls in our own home,” the settler leader said.

The IDF responded to the criticism by releasing its own statement, clarifying that the picture taken at Givat Assaf represented the only barrier installed by the army and that it would be taken down. It did not specify whether the decision to remove the fortification was directly due to the criticism.

On December 13, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at the Givat Assaf Junction’s bus stop, killing Sgt. Yosef Cohen and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef and seriously wounding another soldier, American-Israeli Netanel Felber.

Pressure has been building on the defense establishment to carry out punitive measures against Palestinians in the West Bank in response to that attack and several others that have been carried out since — most recently a pair of shootings at the Ariel and Gitai Junctions on Sunday, which took the lives of a civilian and a soldier.

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