Israel and Palestine
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|Mitchell Bard||April 4th 2011|
Cutting Edge Commentator
|Qalqiliya checkpoint, Israel|
Thanks to improved security cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces, a greater commitment to preventing terror on the part of the Palestinian Authority and Israel's successful counterterror measures, the level of violence emanating from the West Bank has significantly declined. This has allowed Israel to take steps to ease restrictions on Palestinian movement and remove many of the road blocks and checkpoints.
In 2010, for example, Israel issued more than 45,000 commercial entry permits and 651,000 civilian entry permits to West Bank residents wishing to travel to Israel, an increase of 42 percent over 2009. In 2009-10, Israel removed more than 200 roadblocks and reduced the number of manned checkpoints from 41 to 14.
Israel also balances its security concerns with sensitivity to the medical needs of Palestinians. In 2009-10, more than 28,500 Palestinian hospital patients and their companions were transported from Gaza to Israel to receive world class medical treatment. An additional 175,000 patients from the West Bank, among them 7,500 children, were brought to Israel for various procedures, surgeries and treatments. For example, thousands of Gaza residents suffering from cancer are admitted for radiation, chemotherapy and clinical trials in Israel. Israel has created numerous medical programs, such as Heart to Heart, that are specifically targeted at helping Palestinian children who suffer from rare, life-threatening diseases. Moreover, many Israeli hospitals have opened internship programs to help train Palestinian doctors from the West Bank and Gaza.
Still, as recently as March 9 when a Palestinian terrorist was caught at the Tapuach checkpoint south of Nablus carrying eight bombs intended for use against Israeli civilians, we are reminded why the checkpoints were established and why they cannot all be removed. Israelis look forward to a day when a peace agreement with the Palestinians obviates the need for these security measures.
Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst. His latest book is The Arab Lobby.