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In sign of calm, Israel removes gunfire barrier

Last Updated: Sunday, August 15, 2010 - 23:50

Ramallah: Israeli army cranes
on Sunday began removing a concrete barrier that shielded a Jewish
neighbourhood bordering the West Bank from gunfire -- a sign
that calm is taking hold in the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military erected the 600-yard (meter)
concrete barrier nine years ago on the outskirts of the Gilo
neighbourhood in southern Jerusalem because of repeated
Palestinian shootings from the West Bank town of Beit Jalla.
The barrier is being dismantled over the next two weeks
because of a reduced security threat and improved coordination
between Israeli and West Bank security forces, the Israeli
military said.

The removal of the barrier highlights the different
trajectories of the Israeli-controlled West Bank, where
pragmatic Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has limited
authority over 40 per cent of the land, and the Hamas-ruled
Gaza Strip.

Poverty has deepened in Gaza since the Islamic militant
Hamas seized the territory from Abbas` forces in 2007 and
Israel and Egypt imposed a border blockade. In the West Bank,
the economy has made a modest recovery after years of
downturn, in part because Israel eased some restrictions on
Palestinian movement.

Some areas have seen a building boom, new businesses have
opened and car imports are up.

Gilo, a neighbourhood of about 40,000, was a convenient
target of gunmen during the second Palestinian uprising
against Israeli occupation, which erupted in 2000. Palestinian
militants frequently fired at Israelis, including West Bank
motorists and soldiers. Gilo was hit because it was close to a
West Bank town.


First Published: Sunday, August 15, 2010 - 23:50

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