During my recent trip to Israel we were lucky enough to visit Giloh, a suburb in Jerusalem which fell under incessant fire during the early stages of the second Intifada. Armed with an astute military expert our bus made its way toward Giloh via the twisted and scenic road that hugs the pre '67 Jerusalem borders.
Palestinian fire on regular Israeli suburbs presented the IDF with one of the major challenges of the second Intifada. Before the Intifada the shootings had largely been limited to the settlements -- but during the Intifada the Palestinians brought the shootings to regular Israeli suburbs like Giloh. The challenge was partly tactical and partly psychological. People living in settlements are used to and aware of the constant threat but the people of Giloh weren't prepared or conditioned for it at all. An immune system was needed.
The tension reached breaking point when the Palestinians started firing at the kindergarten in Giloh. A suit of armour was provided in the form of ugly concrete pillars which formed a wall defending the Kindergarten and many other private residences from the incessant Palestinian fire. The wall has since been painted and now pleasant pictures hide a reality behind the wall that only the most daring of dreamers will call a view of a future. (This wall is not to be confused with the utterly dreaded
apartheid wall - it does not physically separate one side from the other and you can easily walk around it to see what's on the other side as I did in the photo's shown below.)
When the Palestinians fired on Giloh they informed the press because they wanted the world to see their symbolic and brazen firing on our capital. Israel initially brought in tanks to deal with the problem but this only played into the Palestinian strategy of maximising media coverage. The tanks were soon removed.
Below you can see one of the buildings in Giloh scared with bullet holes. This became the reality of a citizen living under fire. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
The next picture is taken standing alongside the painted pillar wall looking out over Beit Jalla. It's a view of where the Palestinians were shooting from. Most of the shooting came from places near the Churches. The army was ordered not to fire retaliatory shells from here because damaging the churches would have also played directly into the Palestinians strategy. To end the carnage the IDF sent ground forces into Beit Jalla and Bethlehem (far left of the photo) to hit the Palestinians hard from cellar to cellar and from house to house. (Click on image for larger version.)
To stop the infiltration of Islamic suicide bombers from Bethlehem into Israel you can see the security barrier that has been constructed (see below). I say Islamic suicide bombers because there has never been a single Christian Palestinian suicide bomber in Israel. The Christian Palestinians of Bethlehem argue that it's unfair that they suffer the hardships brought by the security barrier when they are not responsible for the terror. Unfortunately, before the construction of the barrier, hundreds of terrorists infiltrated Israel through Bethlehem.
Contrary to what you will hear from most media outlets it's true that 95% of the barrier is a chain link structure. The first photo shows the section in Bethlehem that is a concrete barrier to protect Israelis from sniper fire. The second photo shows how the barrier continues as a fence. And no...the fence is not electrified.