Private Security Companies that are hired to Protect Settlers in Jerusalem.
General situation on checkpoints:
In 2003, Israel state comptroller published a report urging the development of an overall strategy for checkpoint administration. But only in 2005, when the comptroller began working on a follow-up report, did the cabinet finally decide to set up the Crossing Administration. It also decided to replace the soldiers at these checkpoints with private security companies answerable to the Defense Ministry.
On that occasion, a Defense Ministry unit in the Israeli Government was set up to oversee checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank. However, these checkpoints are still run by different agencies, and no single body coordinates their work.
The agencies running the checkpoints include:
– the Israel Defense Forces,
-the Defense Ministry’s Crossing Administration,
– the Border Police
– the regular police.
-the Counterterrorism Bureau,
the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories,
the Crossing Administration
and the IDF Central Command.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that two different bodies are responsible for each checkpoint:
One is in charge of operating it, while the other is responsible for security.
A large number of new checkpoints were set up around the outskirts of Jerusalem following the Israeli cabinet’s decision to build the separation fence. All of these fall under the purview of the Jerusalem police, which set up a special administration to deal with them.
Taking a look at the checkpoints around Jerusalem an observer can notice that each organization involved sends representatives to every checkpoint. Thus military policemen stand alongside civilian security guards, Border Police officers, representatives of the special police administration and COGAT staff.
Unlike checkpoints within the West Bank, which are all operated by the military or the Border Police, checkpoints on the Green Line, which separates Israel from the West Bank, deal exclusively with Palestinians seeking to enter Israel. They are positioned at every crossing from the West Bank into Israel and are under the purview of the defense minister, who, together with his staff, is the one determines their location, size and operating procedures, the number of people allowed through, and so on.
In addition to the minister, three other organizations have responsibilities in this area, but are not connected to each other.
The first is COGAT[i], headed by Brig. Gen. Eitan Dangot, who answers directly to the minister. COGAT’s main component is the Civil Administration, which answers both to Dangot and to the GOC Central Command.
The second is the Crossing Administration, which is mainly an operational body, but can occasionally influence policy. The third is the Defense Ministry’s political-security department, which deals with issues affected by the checkpoints, such as the West Bank economy.
The third and alongside these agencies, which fall under the Defense Ministry, is the Counterterrorism Bureau, which is part of the Prime Minister’s Office.
For instance; at the Tarqumiya[ii] checkpoint, the body responsible for security is the Defense Ministry, but the actual operator is a private security contractor.
In Shuafat, the organization in charge of security is the Jerusalem police, but the operator is the Border Police.
At the Rachel Terminal checkpoint by the regular police is the operating body, while the nearby Wallaja checkpoint, which is closed to Palestinians, is run by the Border Police.[iii]
Jerusalem Security Companies:
The security company is hired by the Ministry of Housing , through a public tender.
This year the tender was won by a company called Modin Ezrahi .
The Housing Ministry role increased in Settlements inside Jerusalem ever since Ariel Sharon took the portfolio of this Ministry, and hence, the Housing Ministry was responsible for the security budget of the settlers.
Some of the settlements are considered “preferred area A” by the Housing Ministry, thus qualifying them for a wide range of benefits. The Housing Ministry’s list of “preferred area A” communities is not publicly available.
An article published by Jerusalem Post Newspaper in June 2009[iv] ,shed the lights over the details of the Peace Now report figures and numbers concerning security forces assigned for Jerusalem settlements. According to the article, Israeli government funding allocated to a private security firm tasked with protecting Jewish residents in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem has more than doubled over the last 10 years, and now exceeds NIS 54 million.
The report in which the article based its information from, details a steady rise in the costs for permanent guards at the homes of the more than 2,000 Jewish residents in the area, tight security escorts and in some places transportation. These services are provided by some 350 private guards at 66 different locations, in neighborhoods like the Old City’s Muslim Quarter and Silwan.
The latest figures show a NIS 7 million increase from 2008, when security expenditures in east Jerusalem reached NIS 47.8 million, and an increase of NIS 14 million from 2007, when the budget was set at NIS 40 million.
In 1999, the Construction and Housing Ministry’s budget for security in the area was NIS 24.9 million.
The rise for allocating extra budget for the security has been increasing remarkably in the last decade. “The Israeli Knesset has allocated an additional NIS 5 million for the protection of Israeli settlers in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Ras Amud neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The bonus brings the total cost of guarding 3,000 settlers in East Jerusalem to nearly $4 million per year. The money is paid to private security companies.”[v]
In a deeper examination , the Peace Now report of the 2009-2010 state budget shows that nearly 1 billion shekels are explicitly designated for the settlements each year. This includes only special budget items for the settlements, without the general items where budgetary expenses involving the settlements are hidden.
In the list of the explicit expenses, the Housing Ministry pays the Security in East Jerusalem, for a total of NIS 54.54 million a year.[vi]
The settlers in the middle of the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem receive close, 24-hour a day security protection provided by a private company at the expense of the taxpayers.
As for other settlements in Jerusalem , the budget [vii] concerning security by the Ministry of Housing is as follows:
- Maale Adumim – NIS 76.84 million a year to develop neighborhood 07, in which 3100 housing units were built. The last hundreds of housing units in the project are currently being built.
- Har Homa – NIS 107.84 million a year to develop the Har Homa neighborhood in East Jerusalem, to build 240 housing units in 2009, and another 907 housing units in 2010.[viii]
The Security Company:
Group “Intelligence citizens ” “Modiin Ezrahi” was established in 1963 is one of the oldest and largest companies operating in Israel in security and information security, hidden cameras focus services and electronic alarm , secure courier , transporting valuables money and diamonds . Company layout is done throughout the country through branches from Eilat in the south to Nahariya in the North.[ix]
Customers of Modiin Ezrahi :
Elbit , IBM , Israel Police, Tel Aviv Museum , Jerusalem Museum , Ministry of Defence , Prime Minister’s Office , Ministry of Finance , Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Housing , Ministry of Justice , Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Science , Ministry of Health , Ministry of Transport , Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce , Institute for Biological Research , Institute for Nuclear Research , Co Op – Blue Square , the Israeli Knesset , Economic Services , the nation’s buildings , Municipality of Ra’anana, Tel Aviv Municipality , general health services – hospitals : ( Beilinson , Sharon , Geha , Rebecca , Levinstein , Caramel, Shlcta , Wolpon ) , Maccabi Health Fund , Vichy , University of Haifa , Israel Ports Authority – Port of Eilat , the security of Jewish residents in the old city , border crossings .
[i] The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (or COGAT) is a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense that engages in coordinating civilian issues between the Government of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian Authority.
[ii] Tarqumya Crossing (north-west of Hebron).
[iii]Haaretz , Chaim Levinson, published 12.11.10.
[iv] Jerusalem Post: “Private security costs in e. J’lem double in a decade” Jun. 30, 2009
Abe Selig , THE JERUSALEM POST
[v] Jerusalem Chronology,February 2003
[vi] (item 706914 in the budget)