Palestinians demand removal of 100 cellular towers in West Bank

Communications minister seeks to designate antennas as crucial to security, which would prevent their dismantlement

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Illustrative photo of a cellphone tower (photo credit: CC BY Joe Ravi/Wikipedia)
Illustrative photo of a cellphone tower (photo credit: CC BY Joe Ravi/Wikipedia)

A group of Palestinians petitioned the Supreme Court to order the removal of some 100 commercial cellphone towers across the West Bank because they were allegedly placed on Palestinian-owned or disputed land, Army Radio reported on Tuesday.

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said that, in advance of any legal ruling, he has asked Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to designate the antennas as being vital to security, which would block their dismantling.

Gershon Mesika, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, told the radio station that in many areas of the West Bank, “If there is a security incident… there is no one to call. Everyone realizes that driving on the roads of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] involves safety issues and communication problems.”

The towers in question are operated by the three largest Israeli carriers — Pelephone, Orange, and Cellcom — and are largely used by Israeli settlers. Palestinians living in the West Bank typically use Palestinian carriers, although some prefer the Israeli companies because they offer higher connection speeds, according to a July report in the Forward.

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