Thousands of West Bank Palestinians enter Israel illegally every day through breaks in the security fence, the commander of the Israel Police Central District said Wednesday.
Addressing a news conference, Maj. Gen. Avi Biton said there are breaches along the length of the separation barrier.
He also warned of a repeat of the riots in mixed Arab-Jewish communities in Israel during the military operation in the Gaza Strip in May 2021.
“The state speaks in two voices. On one hand they want to close the barrier so there is no entry, and on the other hand they want to allow Palestinians to come back home with money,” Biton said. More than 100,000 West Bank Palestinians have permits that allow them to work and do business in Israel.
”We meet unauthorized Palestinians at construction sites in city centers, and we fight [unauthorized entry] resolutely, but we can’t complain when the barrier is breached.”
Biton said the increased deployment of soldiers along the fence in the wave of terror attacks in the spring reduced property crimes in Israel, but they rebounded with troop reassignments. “When the army made the barrier a priority and stationed soldiers at the gaps, the number of crimes dropped by dozens of percentage points,” he said.
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Police data does indeed show a rise in property crimes in recent weeks. According to police estimates, 95 percent of suspected car thieves are West Bank Palestinians.
“When the barrier was dealt with, there were no crimes,” Biton clarified, adding: “When the state wants to, it can seal the barrier hermetically, as we’ve seen done in the southern border.” When asked to estimate the number of breaks in the fence, he replied: “It’s all one big breach.”