South Hebron Hills - pillboxes as a "means to improve IDF's hold on threatened areas"

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Muhammad and Ariela;Translator: Natanya
פילבוקס בדרך לעבדה
פילבוקס מאוייש בצומת דורא-אלפוואר
פילבוקס בצומת הכבשים
פילבוקס, גדרות תיל ושקדיה פורחת ליד צומת זיף

At the Meitar checkpoint, the parking lot was full. The passage is as usual . Extensive work is being done on Route 60, hopefully for the well-being of the Palestinians as well. We did not see any special movement of the army and all the entrances to the villages were open.

Following an article I saw on the IDF website from July 12, 2017, entitled "The Engineering Revolution in Judea and Samaria: A Special Look at Innovations Against Terrorism in the Judean Sector," including the building called "Pillbox," we decided to follow the pillbox buildings and see how they fit into the landscape and the people who live there.

Some quotes from the article on the IDF website that explain the background to the IDF construction in the southern Hebron Mountains.

"Due to the operational challenges facing the forces operating in the sector by night and day, senior members of the brigade, led by its commander, Col. Itzik Cohen, decided to adopt a new concept called "Magen Avot".

"Its purpose is to ensure the stability and security of the residents of the area and to improve the IDF's grip on the threatened areas."

"This perception stems from the understanding that in order to prevent terrorist incidents in the Jewish community, it must be thwarted from inside the enemy's territory," say brigade officials, explaining: "The fighters will work more in security areas in threatened areas so as to strengthen the hold of the army in certain areas and to see that the settlers are not threatened by terrorism"

"The fighters will work more in the security areas in the threatened areas in order to increase the army's hold on points intended for disaster and to ensure that terrorism does not harm civilians."

"One of the main tools on which the concept of "Magen Avot" is based is the use of engineering means, designed to create a safe space for action for IDF fighters in order to carry out ongoing security work as effectively as possible."

"The engineering effort is an integral effort  which stems from the concept itself," explains Major Pesach, the engineering officer in the Judea Brigade. "These days we are in the midst of an engineering revolution throughout the division. We take care to study the sectoral history that is continuous in complex security incidents, and to give it an engineering response in the way outlined by the new concept that defines for us that laying a proper engineering infrastructure can change reality and lead to a breakthrough in the fight against terrorism."

From the Meitar checkpoint we continued on Route 60 and to the first pillbox on our way which was on the way up to Abda. The checkpoint was open and it appears that the pillbox is unmanned but remain as a presence between the village houses in the background.

Further down the road, at the Al-Fawwar-Dura junction, is another pillbox that is always manned and soldiers leave it to make rolling checkpoints . This time everything was open and the soldiers were not seen at the intersection.

We continued on Route 60 and  to the next pillbox which is at Beit Hagai. A small building overlooking Road 60 and located on the outskirts of the settlement.

Further down the road in front of the Judea Squadron is the reservoir of concrete blocks with which the army is blocking access roads to the villages.

The next pillbox on the way is at the  Sheep junction, where the sheep market takes place.

After the sheep junction, we turned onto the 356 road at the Beit Hagai junction. Just before the Zif junction we went down a dirt road that led to a pillbox. The pillbox itself is unmanned, but we met an officer and a soldier in a jeep who probably came to see if everything was okay there. After a short conversation they continued on their way and we were left to watch the spectacular view: Pillbox, barbed wire fences and flowering almonds.

We continued on our way back through road 317 and there at the junction with the road that leads to Yatir forest.  it has the highest pillbox in the area.

Architecture of occupation. The pillboxes are everywhere and even when unmanned they are present. The building materials of the occupier are concrete and iron, the building materials of the occupier are sheets, sheets of cloth or nylon and tires.