Image default

Living in fear on the border with the West Bank


Shots are fired again and again, drones fly over the barbed wire fence, residents report drilling noises underground: In the city of Bat Hefer on the border with the West Bank, residents no longer feel safe.

Bettina Meier

Shots echo through the front gardens of the 5,000-person town of Bat Hefer in central Israel. It is located on the separation wall with the West Bank. A few hundred meters behind it is Tulkarm. The Palestinian town is considered a terrorist stronghold. Armed fighters from there repeatedly fire on Bat Hefer – just this week, several times. Cars and houses were hit.

Residents like Amitai Gazit live in fear. He lives just a few hundred meters from the wall. He heard gunshots, explosions and a humming noise. It was a drone taking pictures of the city. “After October 7, we don't feel safe. All my friends have guns now. My wife wants me to buy one too.”

He says he thinks about how he can protect himself, his wife and his children every day. In his house, he closes the door to the family bunker. On the inside, he attaches a wooden board with a hole big enough for the door handle to fit through. This prevents the handle from being pushed down. “We are not afraid of rockets, but of a massacre,” says Gazit. Help for self-help, says Gazit. Because on October 7, terrorists managed to open bunkers, kill and kidnap people.

Amitai Gazit lives just a few hundred meters from the wall to the West Bank.

Concern about increasing violence in the West Bank

The regional council of Emek Hefer is also very concerned about the increasing violence in the West Bank. The regional council chairwoman Galit Shaul is responsible for Bat Hefer and 40 other communities. It is 13 kilometers from the dividing line to the West Bank to the sea. Terrorists could quickly reach large cities such as Netanya, Herzliya or Tel Aviv, the politician warns.

She doesn't take anything lightly and follows up on every lead. The army is constantly finding more and more weapons and there are constant posts on TikTok in which Bat Hefer is being shot. “I never thought that as regional council chairman I would have to procure weapons,” says Shaul. “I have a friend who still laughs at me today because I called and asked how I could get a tank.”

Her concern seems justified. Militant fighters are getting ever closer to border towns like Bat Hefer. She has learned that the terrorist organizations are offering money to anyone who fires shots at the town and posts the video on the Internet. Shaul speaks of a business based on terror.

Investigation of tunnels under the city

In Bat Hefer, construction vehicles are clearing away earth between the separation wall and the fence. The municipality recently had the area near the fence examined. Residents claim to have heard drilling noises under their houses at night and suspect that terrorists are building tunnels.

Mika Fried from the company Geoscope examined a three-kilometer area in Bat Hefer. Using modern technology, he and the army are also tracking down Hamas tunnels in Gaza. “I can say that we have found suspicious places in Bat Hefer. We believe that if there is a tunnel, it must be there. In 98 percent of cases when someone calls us, we find a tunnel.”

Back in Bat Hefer, local resident Amitai Gazit stops at a spot where there is a gap in the wall because a water canal runs there. The outlines of houses on the other side are clearly visible through the fence. It is only 400 meters, less than a kilometer. “That's Tulkarm. A sniper could be standing on the hill or on the roof and shoot me.”

Gazit has lived in Bat Hefer for 20 years. He admits that he has thought about moving away, possibly abroad. He does not want to live in a bunker with a gun and a wooden board forever.

Bettina Meier, ARD Tel Aviv, tagesschau, 31.05.2024 21:16

Related posts

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.