THE BLOG

Reality Check, <i>Toronto Star</i>: Israeli Checkpoints Save Lives

02/06/2014 12:02 EST | Updated 04/08/2014 05:59 EDT

In a special to the Toronto Star on Jan. 25, John Lorinc opined that "Stephen Harper would have done well to pass through the security checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem."

Lorinc described the Kalandia checkpoint, for example, as a "dehumanizing portal" and while it's regrettable that such security measures must be put in place as they pose inconveniences to Palestinians, these necessary precautions against terror ensure the safety of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Yet, Lorinc's close to 1,000 word missive barely mentioned the sole raison d'être for military checkpoints like Kalandia which are enforced solely to prevent terror from being waged against Israel's civilian populace. Failing to contextualize this matter, showed a callous indifference to the precarious situation Israel is faced with on a daily basis, as its constantly confronted by terror on all its borders.

Israel's Security Agency, the Shin Bet, released its annual report recently which documented that in the west bank alone, terror attacks more than doubled in 2013, with 578 attacks in 2012 to 1,271 last year, with six Israelis being killed in 2013. The Jerusalem Post reports that "Of the six Israelis killed, three were stabbed to death by their attackers, two were killed by snipers and one, IDF soldier Tomer Hazan, was kidnapped and strangled. Five of the six killings took place from September until the end of the year... Altogether, some 44 Israelis were injured in terror attacks in 2013 according to the Shin Bet, as opposed to 309 in 2012, 269 of which were during Operation Pillar of Defense. The Shin Bet said that 78 per cent of the injuries in 2013 were caused in rock-throwing or fire bomb incidents. Of the 44 injured, 15 were civilians and 29 members of the security forces."

Since the Second Intifada in 2,000, 1,227 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks and 8,549 have been injured. Additionally, the Shin Bet claims to have been able to prevent 190 terror attacks in 2013, 40 which were carried out by terrorists freed under the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, including 16 suicide attacks, as opposed to 112 in 2012. In total, more than 2,500 terror suspects were arrested in 2013, most of them in the west bank (half of those arrested were later indicted).

With respect to Kalandia itself, in 2012, two Palestinian teens were arrested at this checkpoint after police found they were hiding pipe bombs, a gun and ammunition. In 2011, Israeli forces arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian man at this checkpoint after finding a knife on his person. Ynet News reported at the time that "The man admitted during questioning that he arrived at the crossing to attempt to injure security personnel. He refused to identify himself." In 2009, a terror attack near Jerusalem was thwarted after Israeli forces arrested a 20-year-old Palestinian man and found an explosive device on his person at the Kalandia checkpoint.

In 2006, Hussam Abdo, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was caught adorning a suicide bombing vest with 8kgs loaded with metal shards at the Shchem checkpoint near Nablus. Not wanting to be a "martyr" anymore, Abdo proclaimed upon his capture that he was "afraid to die". In 2005, two Palestinian civilians and an Israeli Army officer were killed when a Palestinian suicide bomber stopped at a checkpoint near Tulkarm, in the west bank, and blew himself up. These nefarious efforts are not restricted to men alone. In 2004, Wafa Al-Biss was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison after trying to blow herself up at the Erez crossing into Israel. Al-Biss was one of the 477 people freed in exchange for Sergeant Gilad Schalit who was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists.

As former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once famously asserted: "If the Arabs put down their guns there would be no more fighting. If the Israelis put down theirs there would be no more Israel."

Should Palestinian terror cease to exist, it's reasonable to assume that these physical barriers would be removed. For that to come to light though, the impetus falls squarely on the Palestinian leadership to stop inciting its populace towards violence, end its indoctrination of youths toward martyrdom, and end the capacity for violence emanating from the territories by purging Gaza and the west bank of terrorists and their dangerous weaponry.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Israel-Gaza conflict