The Jewish rights group Legal Forum for the Land of Israel is calling on the IDF to require soldiers to issue a warning to Israeli citizens entering Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. The Forum warned that a lack of road signs in Judea and Samaria means Israelis could enter PA areas unintentionally.
“It is imperative that soldiers manning the checkpoints receive orders to warn Israelis that the road leads to the PA. Such orders may be essential in saving lives,” read a letter from the Legal Forum to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and senior District officers.
PA areas are dangerous for Israelis. While Israelis from the extreme political left occasionally demonstrate alongside PA Arabs in the villages of Naalin and Bil’in, Israelis who enter such areas accidentally have been violently attacked and even murdered. Two Israeli reservists were sadistically murdered by a lynch mob in the year 2000 when they entered Ramallah by mistake.
The NAVNGO company, a GPS provider, warned drivers last year not to follow their GPS devices when traveling in Judea and Samaria, out of concern that they could be directed to travel via an unsafe route.
Two weeks ago, an Israeli couple driving from Kedumim in Samaria to the coastal city of Netanya mistakenly entered a PA village. Residents misled them into driving further into the village, where they were ambushed by local youths, who stoned the car and attempted to prevent them from leaving.
The driver managed to drive the car out of danger and no passengers were injured, but the incident raised questions regarding IDF intervention – or lack thereof – in such cases. Soldiers at a checkpoint through which the couple had passed on their way into the village argued that it was not their job to issue warnings.
The soldiers may have thought that the couple was planning to enter the PA village on purpose. Many Arab citizens of Israel travel regularly to PA areas, and some Jewish Israelis do so as well.
The Legal Forum called on soldiers to issue a warning to drivers even if they may be entering PA-controlled territory on purpose. “Should an Israeli decide to drive into the PA, there may be no reason to prevent him from doing so. However, it seems that most Israelis entering the PA do so by mistake, and most would doubtless prefer to avoid endangering themselves and their passengers.”
If you are not a Hebrew speaker and have difficulty communicating with soldiers in such a situation, you may want to use the Hebrew phrase “zeh mesookan sham?” (“is it dangerous there?”).
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