Security Effectiveness of the Israeli West Bank Barrier

Interesting analysis:

Abstract: Objectives -- Informed by situational crime prevention (SCP) this study evaluates the effectiveness of the "West Bank Barrier" that the Israeli government began to construct in 2002 in order to prevent suicide bombing attacks.

Methods -- Drawing on crime wave models of past SCP research, the study uses a time series of terrorist attacks and fatalities and their location in respect to the Barrier, which was constructed in different sections over different periods of time, between 1999 and 2011.

Results -- The Barrier together with associated security activities was effective in preventing suicide bombings and other attacks and fatalities with little if any apparent displacement. Changes in terrorist behavior likely resulted from the construction of the Barrier, not from other external factors or events.

Conclusions -- In some locations, terrorists adapted to changed circumstances by committing more opportunistic attacks that require less planning. Fatalities and attacks were also reduced on the Palestinian side of the Barrier, producing an expected "diffusion of benefits" though the amount of reduction was considerably more than in past SCP studies. The defensive roles of the Barrier and offensive opportunities it presents, are identified as possible explanations. The study highlights the importance of SCP in crime and counter-terrorism policy.

Unfortunately, the whole paper is behind a paywall.

Note: This is not a political analysis of the net positive and negative effects of the wall, just a security analysis. Of course any full analysis needs to take the geopolitics into account. The comment section is not the place for this broader discussion.

Posted on July 14, 2016 at 5:58 AM • 71 Comments

Comments

jbmartin6July 14, 2016 7:48 AM

I would be curious to hear how this and similar studies might inform the USA's attempts at airport security.

JohnnyJuly 14, 2016 8:25 AM

A paper about a wall behind a payWALL.

Did anyone get through it? Interesting to know the conclusions of this study!

ordinarypersonJuly 14, 2016 8:57 AM

I understand you don't want an Israeli-Palestinian "flame war" on your website but Bruce, come on. You can't dissect the security efficacy of a giant wall without examining the costs of said security.

If America put up a giant security wall around all the black neighborhoods of America, that would also probably be effective in lowering crime. It'd also be a racist, slow-moving pogrom against millions of mostly innocent people to catch the 0.001% who are criminals.

You can't say, "Building a wall around people is an effective security mechanism" in the West Bank without admitting "Putting millions of innocent people in a giant outdoor prison is also racist and possibly even genocidal."

Hem haw hmmJuly 14, 2016 9:12 AM

It might be perspicuous to compare the results of physical concentration and confinement with the natural experiment of the reverse approach: interpenetration of settlements with indigenous Palestinian populations as defined in UNSC Resolutions 452 and 465.

(think I'm getting the hang of this technocratic Newspeak, it's fun!)

Andrew ShermanJuly 14, 2016 9:13 AM

This is Bruce's blog, not a public accommodation. Can't we respect his wishes?

ButtwehJuly 14, 2016 9:44 AM

In other news, J. Mengele has published a paper comparing the effectiveness of intima-to-intima approximation versus interrupted simple sutures for sewing gypsy twins together.

albertJuly 14, 2016 9:46 AM

That being the case then, let's talk about -computer security-, and leave out physical security altogether. There's nothing apolitical about physical security, especially in this case.

. .. . .. --- ....

barfJuly 14, 2016 10:12 AM

I can only read the abstract, but this line confounded me: "[...] The Barrier together with associated security activities was effective in preventing suicide bombings and other attacks and fatalities with little if any apparent displacement. ." Displacement of what, whom? A quick google of displacement + israel + wall points towards displacement of people. If this is what is meant then it goes against what is being said by many others, for example:

The International Court of Justice, in its 2004 Advisory Opinion 'Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory', said: "[...] a significant number of Palestinians have already been compelled by the construction of the wall and its associated regime to depart from certain areas, a process that will continue as more of the wall is built"

UN OCHA: "The Barrier will isolate approximately 9.5 percent of West Bank territory, including East Jerusalem and No-Man’s Land. [...] When completed, approximately 15% of the Barrier will be constructed on the Green Line or in Israel with 85% inside the West Bank."

Of course, as I haven't seen the whole paper I can't comment on the quality of it as a whole. But as the writers seem willing to put this controversial claim in the abstract, one might feel inclined to see this paper as 'research as ordered by political office'.

rJuly 14, 2016 10:19 AM

How are those walls setup? As separate and staggered with maybe 2-3~ rows? Like a sparse wall instead of a contiguous one?

I can see spacial advantages if so.

TedJuly 14, 2016 10:35 AM

What’s The Real Root Cause Of Terrorism: Poverty Or Anger? (FEB 19, 2015)
http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/02/19/3624543/economics-of-terrorism/

"Officials from across the country and religious figures from around the world just are wrapping up Washington for the White House’s Countering Violent Extremism Summit, a three-day event on combating terrorism. One of the topics being discussed is how aid can best be used to turn would-be supporters away from terrorist networks."

"Proctor suggests programs to combat terrorism should focus on combating the underlying issues that actually fuel militancy like corruption, injustice, and poor governance instead of offering economic rewards through vocational and educational training programs... "

Hay nony mouseJuly 14, 2016 10:52 AM

From a purely physical security asspect a wall serves two purposes.

The first is that it can be equated with a distance, from the extra effort required to circumvent it.

The second is that like CCTV it is not a true deterant but a low hanging fruit lifter.

That is criminal activity moves to where the wall is not as the fruit hangs lower there. However if the wall becomes compleated crime will overcome it fairly easily and thus it will not deter crime. Thus the effort to circumvent it becomes the "extra distance".

We have plenty of historical examples of walls failing and as with CCTV and other passive deterrents the reality is they are quickly not cost effective. Even with extra active deterrents as used by East Germany, the Berlin wall repeatedly failed, even though the real cost of the wall and it's associated costs was a significant fraction of the East German GDP.

This is fairly common knowledge, as is the way Mexican citizens cross the US boarder. The ways used by criminals such as drugs and people smugglers are in many ways entirely predictable even if quite spectacular in execution.

Thus we know that this wall is going to fail and at very high cost. So from a physical security perspective it is an expensive failure in the making, and not justifiable from the physical security perspective.

Thus it can be seen that the real reason for the wall is political in nature as it is at the very least just another form of "Security Theatre" (think Great Wall of China and Hadrian's wall) at worse it can be equated with other historical methods of amongst other things genocide.

It's something both the US and EU need to consider very significantly in the very near future. As was once said of the Internet "Information loves to be free" likewise "Humans love to be free" modern technology makes this freedom possible to benifit the many, however like any agnostic tool technology can also be used for tyranny.

Ido GendelJuly 14, 2016 12:04 PM

But Bruce, don't you know that everyone in the world is the highest expert on the subject of Israel and terrorism? :-)

Thanks for this great blog, I just recently discovered it and it's fascinating.

AnonJuly 14, 2016 12:10 PM

I know Bruce tolerates a lot on this blog, but to explicitly prohibit the discussion of the nature and effects of a political wall (physically and metaphorically) whilst talking about a highly political subject, seems anathema to this blog?

Joshua BowmanJuly 14, 2016 3:06 PM

@barf
"Displacement of what, whom? A quick google of displacement + israel + wall points towards displacement of people."

Displacement of attacks. You know the adage that you don't have to be perfectly secure, just more secure than the next guy? Displacement means that the attack goes from you to someone else, but it still occurs. In this context, displacement would mean that with attractive areas walled off, bombings would merely occur in other locations instead. But this paper finds that instead of that happening, less attacks occurred _period_, and the paper's authors believe that the wall is a proximate cause of that. That says nothing about the movement of people, political liberty, whether it's worth the price, etc., it's purely about the correlation between the wall and suicide bombings.

Hope that clears it up.

ianfJuly 14, 2016 3:06 PM


    [ I'm not going to debate PA/ Israel here, merely address some of the misconceptions and vagueness in this thread – so far. ]

@ jbmartin6
                   is “curious to hear how this might inform the USA's attempts at airport security.

It wouldn't. Quit fishing for anything to say.


@ Johnny: “A paper about a wall behind a payWALL

You see it wrongly, a paper in a commercial publisher's medium that kicks back a hefty royalty to content creators/ authors. Yes, information should be free, but someone has to pay salaries even to those information-collating scientists. Also, there a simple way to read such papers for free: inquire at a nearest acad library, or other think-tank that's funded with public money, if they have (access to it) in their library. I don't know specifically about the USA, but in EU academia access to paywalled stuff is habitually granted to all comers, if restricted to be read at the site (but not exclusively).

Lastly, there's some irony to it ;-))


@ ordinaryperson

You obviously are dying to spew out some regurgitated, indignant "Israel is the villain" agitprop. Because “Bruce can not dissect the security efficacy of a giant wall without examining the costs of said security.” [Bruce didn't, he's merely the pianist.]

OK, so let's talk about costs. I presume that, apart from v. much real infrastructure costs borne by the Palestinians, you chiefly meant the undefinable, but allegedly heavy "human cost" that the existence of that Barrier poses to—generalironising—the West Bank Arabs' Sense of Decorum and Honor. We could discuss this all night, and come nowhere.

Then there is the flipside of these Costs, or the Benefits of the Barrier, that APPARENTLY the Israelis and Arabs of all creeds are rewarded by. Emotionally, nobody likes walls going up, dividing the regions. Yet, after the First Intifada, and the ensuing staggered wave of suicide bombings in Israel (perpetrators coming exclusively from the West Bank), the authorities decided to put up such a PASSIVE WALL, as a projected most efficient method to stave off future human-bomb attacks. Efficient also in terms of compound human suffering on both sides of it: the fewer bombings, the less brutalizing military retributions etc will be taking place (and I am sure that there are Palestinian mothers who appreciate that peripheral dividend). Unlike you, the Israelis do not subscribe to the allegedly better, and nominally Christian, "other cheek" doctrine.

When the Wall started going up, it was pretty "holey," and didn't invite the confidence that it'd ever be able to stop anything. Then, a couple of years later (~10? years ago), I listen to a talk on "assured delivery" in the field of [redacted], and the Israeli speaker comes up with this analogous logistical motive behind the Wall's raison d'être: it takes a conspiracy to pop a belt.

    Even after a recruit has been chosen, and a martyr video made, somebody has to build & test the bomb; someone else has to sew the belt; yet another person has to assemble it, and dress up the volunteer suicidée. Then there are those tasked with researching the locality, transporting the payload, and leading the bomber to the target. A veritable cottage industry.

At each phase of that process there are wary fellow Arab eyes and ears that want to prevent this form of senseless asymmetrical warfare, as circle-jerky ineffectual and leading nowhere. They report suspicions to Israeli security, which investigates and nips these attempts in the bud, while the tipsters are remunerated (pay-as-you-go phone bills are a fave; in secret, or else they end up executed by their own). The Wall, said the speaker, effectively lengthens the distance that has to be covered, and prolongs the time it takes to get there, so that there are more opportunities to discover these plots (or something like that, am quoting from inexact memory). The largely liberal, not given to Israel-love audience, rewarded him with a hefty applause for that matter-of-factly lecture. Mind you, he probably was lying to cover up something or other.


@ barf
            is confounded by the ONLY TRUE MEANING of the words apparent displacement used in the Abstract. This could but mean displacement of people (the Palestinian people – as a result of putting up the wall?); and never, say, the permanent type of displacement of bomb victims (e.g.) From then on, s/he ready to “feel inclined to see this paper as 'research ordered by political office'” – office not named, but implied. Ah, the devious Israelis, first they order a politically tainted Wall efficacy paper, THEN they prevent free dissemination of it!!!!!!


@ Hay nony mouse
                                has a lot to say about things s/he knows nothing about, other than how to speculate using freely interpreted factoids from other fences/ regions; then concludes with:

[…] “we know that this wall is going to fail and at very high cost. So from a physical security perspective it is an expensive failure in the making, and not justifiable from the physical security perspective.”

Who's that "we?" (hiding behind the plural pronoun is the surest way to signal own clay feet, insecurity and ignorance).

But all his/ hers is not BS. There's a raisin of indisputable truth in that statement (rephrased here for clarity):

[even with the wall complete] “organized crime will overcome it fairly easily and thus it will not deter criminal activity.

Quite, organized crime has its own methods of subverting and infiltrating anything of criminal (=instant profit) nature. Even at the height of hostilities in Hamas "bandit-country" Gaza, the Israeli drivers delivering luxury stolen cars with forged papers to their fences there were inviolate. Or so I heard.

ShacharJuly 14, 2016 3:21 PM

The comment section is not the place for this broader discussion.

Always the optimist, I see :-)

Quite a lot of comments present personal opinions as facts, and incorrect facts while at it. I will not try to correct these, as I try to respect Bruce's request. Please feel free to contact me offline (the name on this comment at shemesh dot biz) if you want to argue the political aspect of these points.

One such comment stuck out in particular. Hay nony mouse says:

The second is that like CCTV it is not a true deterant but a low hanging fruit lifter. ... However if the wall becomes compleated crime will overcome it fairly easily and thus it will not deter crime. Thus the effort to circumvent it becomes the "extra distance".


...

This is fairly common knowledge, as is the way Mexican citizens cross the US boarder. The ways used by criminals such as drugs and people smugglers are in many ways entirely predictable even if quite spectacular in execution.


Thus we know that this wall is going to fail and at very high cost. So from a physical security perspective it is an expensive failure in the making, and not justifiable from the physical security perspective.

Which boils down to this. When common knowledge conflicts with established facts, pick the former over the later.

The wall is effective. Had you lived in Israel while it was being constructed, you could actually feel the press of terror attack start to ease as construction progressed and circumventing it became harder and harder.

Saying it is going to fail ignores the fact that it has already succeeded. For one thing, suicide bombing turn from an every day event to extreme rarity (I think there were less than ten in the past decade). The lives saved thus far have more than paid for its construction.

As for circumvention, of course there was. The new attack vectors, however, are so much inferior to the one that the wall prevents, that treating it as an "effective or not" is simply ignoring the reality of things.

First of all, up until a year ago, all of the alternative attack approaches were only possible if you had total control over the area from which you attack. This means that they originated solely from Gaza. None from the west bank. Just open a map of Israel, and see how much that reduces the attacked area.

At first Hamas employed firing missiles. This is a much inferior attack vector to it than suicide bombing, because:
A. Missiles are harder to come by. You need to either smuggle them in or manufacture them.
B. Missiles are more difficult to store until you need them. They give you assets the other side (Israel) can target.
C. Missiles are more difficult to deploy and operate. Again, they produce vulnerability points the other side can target
and, a bit unexpectedly
D. Israel developed a surprisingly effective counter measure.

So Hamas augmented the missiles attack with digging tunnels under the wall. This is an even more inferior attack vector, because:
A. Tunnels are expensive. It takes around two years to build a tunnel due to the need to hide its existence and location from Israel
B. Tunnels require raw materials that Israel controls.
C. It seems, though it is unconfirmed at this point, that Israel has developed a counter measure for tunnels as well.

I don't know how accurate C is, because:
D. Tunnels put Hamas at direct odds with the Palestinian civilian population

The people building the tunnels are, often, not Hamas operatives, but civilians forced to do so. As a result, Israel can, and occasionally does, get them and interrogate them. A tunnel is not exactly something you can move around. Once Israel knows where a tunnel is, the two years you spent building it go down the drain.

And all of the above is possible because of the wall. Calling it ineffective is simply ignoring the facts.

Over the last year, a new type of attack began. These are knifing attacks by individuals not necessarily affiliated with any terror organization. These attack, while seemingly returning to the pre-wall days, are much much much less effective than suicide bombing. As such, even on that front, it is simply wrong to say that the wall is an expensive failure.

Shachar

AdamJuly 14, 2016 3:36 PM

@ Bruce Schneier

OT: Bruce, congratulations to your new role as board member of the Tor Project! Great choice! Having you on board gives me hope! Thanks a lot! :-)

Rachel Corey PancakesJuly 14, 2016 3:48 PM

@ianf, why don't you test your hypothesis and do an intervention analysis with ARIMA, dead Palestinians pre- and post- wall? Knock yaself out, I'll wait.

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/deaths.html#source

http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000639

What you'll see is a big post-wall increase in dead dismembered Palestinians. The putative reduction in suicide bombings didn't do much for the next Palestinian tyke that gets whacked every three days or so. That's because what kills Palestinians is not suicide bombers but Israeli occupiers. None of whom ever get charged, by the way. So if you really want to save Palestinian lives and compound suffering with your hot white tears, then take away the IDF's impunity.

ianfJuly 14, 2016 4:02 PM


@ Shachar,

I forgot to add that those fairly recent intentional vehicular homicide and knife attacks in Israel constitute a very ineffectual form of, and return to unarmed asymmetrical warfare – because all other, potentially more lethal, explosive attack vectors have been thwarted by the Wall.

But the world only sees it as a Concrete Oppressive Eyesore, and gets fuzzy nostalgic over the toppling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 – forgetting that, without the 4 June, 1989 first democratic opposition electoral victory of the Solidarity Movement in Poland (and the near-simultaneous "sieve border" between Hungary and Germany, which began a flood of East German escapees), that Wall could be standing up for quite some time longer.

JacobJuly 14, 2016 4:04 PM

Erecting the barrier was 80% political, 20% security, so no one can truely assess its security effectiveness.

When conceived during the 2nd Intifada to assuage public concerns about suicide bomber coming from the west bank, PM Sharon had built the barrier along a route that made liitle sense from a security POV, but made a lot of sense from a territorial division in case Israel would be forced to accept a Palestinian state. Certainly erecting the wall was much more expensive than mining the area (the operational cost would be the same - you still would need overlooking military posts to thwart any attempted breach).

The barrier has never been completed, and there are large areas that still allow unhindered passage from the west bank into Israel. In addition, the concept of total movement blockage has never been on the table, and it is more like a "breathing" wall (unlike the fence surrounding Gaza or the Berlin Wall).
There are published reports and articles in major Israeli media how Palestinias who look for jobs inside Israel gather at night at certain locations by the wall, brought in by established "facilitators" or taxi drivers, climb over the wall and get into Israel. The Army knows about that, but prefer not to interfere since they know the infilterators are just looking for jobs. The "facilitators" and taxi drivers make sure that no terrorist are among the climbers, since if there are some, the army will stop that smuggling operation in a heart beat and they lose their income.

See also
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/israels-leaky-security-barrier-a-free-pass-for-terror-cells/

WaelJuly 14, 2016 4:19 PM

Ho hum... Walls are weak. It's not so difficult to strap someone with ahem "ordinance" and catapult him or her over the wall. It's been done before

ianfJuly 14, 2016 5:34 PM


[…] “not so difficult to strap someone with "ordinance" and catapult him or her over the wall. It's been done before

Yes, Wael, but there's this little problem of live payload delivery. It has been done before with dead bales of 420. But a live Sapiens mule of maybe 150-200 lbs total would require a pretty large footprint, soft tennis court sized? landing pad directly opposite the catapult. That's much too conspicuous a target not to be ogled from the ISS, and relayed to the nearest missile drone or robot-Apache helicopter. Gimme your plan B.

    [ That said, I see a new,
       linguipoet side of you ].

PS. the subtleness of your deliberatey misspelling has passed my be.

WaelJuly 14, 2016 6:00 PM

@ianf,

Gimme your plan B.

I'd rather not.

PS. the subtleness of your deliberatey misspelling has passed my be.

Don't want things that make loud noise associated with my name. The other word is close enough.

my be

You seem to have a race condition in your thinking threads of execution!

Where in the world is @Clive Robinson? I'm a bit concerned, but I hope he's on vacation somewhere (away from any hospital)

Dirk PraetJuly 14, 2016 6:21 PM

@ ianf

I forgot to add that those fairly recent intentional vehicular homicide and knife attacks in Israel constitute a very ineffectual form of ...

Err, no. Some d*ckhead just killed 70+ people and injured at least a hundred more deliberately driving a lorry into a crowd of people in Nice, France. It's all over the news.

And where is @Clive ?

TedJuly 14, 2016 7:11 PM

Potential suggestions for Resolutions from Nations Borders Identity Conflict

Resolution:
In order for resolution to be achieved, there must be a change in the five general causes of conflict: governmental policies, external forces, population demographics, media/perceptions/propaganda, and economics. In addition to this, the following must occur:

Education
In order for peace to be achieved, both people living in the area afflicted by the conflict as well as the international community must be educated accurately about the conflict and its history. This education must strive to be holistic in nature.

Time
Time must pass in order to accept a new mindset and to create separation from direct personal involvement in the conflict. This often occurs with the birth of a new generation.

Movement of willingness
With or without the help of external forces, the community must be internally motivated to create change. This change often begins with a specific movement, person, or other catalyst with a particular intrinsic willingness to affect social change.

When the above changes take place in conjunction, individuals are again seen as having complex multi-faceted identities. The complexity allows commonality to form between individuals in the community and therefore promotes healing and prevents further conflict.

May the best ideas prevail.

ianfJuly 15, 2016 12:19 AM


@ Wael “doesn't want things that make loud noise associated with his Nick W.

Got it. Security by obscurity. Eat to live. Live to preach. Preach to eat (the terse version).

And as for your cherished human payload catapultability (akin to provincial circuses [circii?] once staple of human cannonball-ing?), it's way overrated in a sophomore frolicks kind of way.

You seem to have a race condition in your thinking threads of execution!

Have I? Of course, I'm always the last to be told, with thoughts behind my lobe arising out of nothing [pace Lawrence Krauss] faster than I can process them before they dissipate back into the Æther. Strange, really, as I modestly think of 'self as a unhurried ruminant at best. But enough about me. Also good at scuttling brilliant careers, mine and others… it's a thankless job but somebody's got to do it.


[…] “Where in the world is @Clive Robinson?

Never mind C., I AM HERE & NOW. Not authorized to disclose anything, so I'll just blurb you in passing where he definitely isn't: in a Bangkok hospital undergoing gender reassignment.


@ Dirk Praet […] “Some d*ckhead just killed 70+ people and injured at least a hundred more deliberately driving a lorry into a crowd of people

Happened just as I was pooh-poohing damage potential of dispersed vehicular homicide. So it's evolving (which, in hindsight, was only to be expected). If the perp fits the "ethnic terror" profile, the first edict of President Trump will be to revoke driving licenses of all fitting the pattern. And the second the Emergency Roadside Action Driver Immediate Custody And Timely Execution Act [ERADICATE]. His & all PDs Answered Prayers really.


And where is @Clive ?

Obviously, he'd rather be here, though I doubt his abilities to wish away the ascension of his Home Nemesis. I'd write "let's hope she makes a cock-up of it," but then I do not dislike the Anglos strongly enough to be wishing such upon them – not that it will prevent her from doing just that, mind.

WaelJuly 15, 2016 1:17 AM

@ianf,

Yea I am familiar with Lawrence krauss's universe from nothing. Pretty dumb.

ShacharJuly 15, 2016 2:07 AM

@free,

I always wondered about such comments. What makes Miko Peled's version of how things went down more reliable than other sources? I mean, I get that you want to believe him, because his claims resonate with what you want to believe is true. Is there anything beyond that that makes this "the truth"?

Shachar

Comrade MajorJuly 15, 2016 2:38 AM

Comments above full of shit. Only Shachar so far said something useful.

We need to understand the reason why this wall was constructed and its threat model.

hay nony mouseJuly 15, 2016 4:52 AM

@ Comrad Major :

    Comments above full of shit. Only Shachar so far said something useful.

I would suggest that you go back and more fully read the comments made by other people. You will find that they have arrived at the same conclusion you have of,

    We need to understand the reason why this wall was constructed and its threat model.

But unkike your short colorfully worded rejection of others, they have attempted to show here why the understanding you call for is required. Primarily this is because the physical security weaknesses and attendent economics of the wall via "guard labour" etc in no way add up, which makes it "Security Theater".

Thus the usual assumptions of stupidity or petty malicious behaviours would come quickly to many minds, if however it was not also for the overly obvious political dimension as this is a supposed "National Security" issue for an "Occupying Force" (see the UN issued decisions on this, as well as those proposals that were stopped due to a Permanent member of the UN Security Council using their veto to stop).

However it would appear from what other commenters have said in general this blog site owner does not like certain types of political discussion. Thus have you considered that the commenters you are colorfully describing are attempting to tactfully make points without venturing into forbiden territory?


@ ianf :

    has a lot to say about things s/he knows nothing about

That realy is a very silly thing to say is it not?

I made two points about the "physical security" of walls,

    From a purely physical security asspect a wall serves two purposes. The first is that it can be equated with a distance, from the extra effort required to circumvent it. The second is that like CCTV it is not a true deterant but a low hanging fruit lifter.

You however claim that I know nothing about the subject... Yet in your same posting you claim you have heard what you apperently regard as a security expert say,

    The Wall, said the speaker, effectively lengthens the distance that has to be covered...

As far as I'm aware I have neither heard nor seen anything from your speaker, so I am in no way "parroting" them.

Perhaps you would care to explain to all here why you should consider their apparently identical view is so essential whilst mine you denigrate in such a fasion as you do?

I suspect that unless you come up with a clearly valid explanation people will start considering you a "Bloviating Blowhard" with a "My country right or wrong" impediment.

hay nony mouseJuly 15, 2016 5:32 AM

@ shachar :

    Which boils down to this. When common knowledge conflicts with established facts, pick the former over the later.

You say this then immediatlty say,

    The wall is effective. Had you lived in Israel while it was being constructed, you could actually feel the press of terror attack start to ease as construction progressed and circumventing it became harder and harder.

Which boils down to you using emotion not fact, which if anything is rather more silly than what you deride as "common knowledge".

Contrary to what you claim this "common knowledge" are "established facts" very much unlike your touchy feely "emotion".

Beside your use of "emotion" rather than established facts, you then use it to draw a false correlation between the building of the wall with the diminishing of certain kinds of activity on the "fallacy of single cause".

For instance perhaps you might want to explain how you rule out other factors one of which is the fall out from the US lead attack on Iraq and the rise of terrorism and similar attacks in other "lower fruit" areas of the ME.

Unlike others you do indirectly admit your lack of impartiality, as you alude to being a person living in Israel.

I suspect the reason why the owner of this blog dislikes certain kinds of political discussion is the emotional lack of impartiality, and the resulting loss of factual reasoning which quickly degenerates from that point onwards.

So I would suggest you properly establish that what you incorrectly claim are facts are actually facts and can show clear cause to effect with all other causes correctly eliminated. Otherwise your argument is at best flawed reasoning, which could lead others to make certain possibly emotive reasoning about you...

CuriousJuly 15, 2016 5:55 AM

Philosophically, for sake of discussion about security: I think it is imperative that one understands that security as a 'process' (culture/politics/praxis/government) would have be thought of as being something different, than any ideals that are understood as coming from any one idea about some security implementation. Otherwise/if not, I think one ends up with the hypothetical problem of "security being a one-way-conspiracy", with the crux of that type of problem relying on how one doesn't know why one really ended up implementing a particular security implementation.

On the other hand. Another obvious issue for me when discussing security in general, would be how one could possibly explain why two different security solutions are being mixed, or added to one another.

So I guess I can imagine two extremes that can come about by well, what people would call, logic (fyi, I am not a fan of logic as meaning (words as meaning) being an agnostic myself), if my first paragraph would entail grand singular security implementations, and the other paragraph entailing multiple additive security features.

CuriousJuly 15, 2016 6:05 AM

To add to what I wrote:

What I forgot to point out, something that isn't strictly necessary, but something that imo would underline the seriousness of not understanding things:

Regarding knowledge, or whatever one would call anything descriptive about anything; I think simply having a theory or even a journal/history of how one understand things, might as well be nothing more than a set of excuses more than anything. In this way, an explanation (for/about something) would best depend on having a sensible 'point' to it (relating to the explanation), else like with strategy in warfare, if you don't, or can't know exactly when you have achieved your goal, then the strategy is no good as a strategy, never knowing if you ever succeeded or failed with it.

To iterate on something that I had written earlier some time ago:

explanation + point = good
explanation + explanation = bad
point + point = bad

ianfJuly 15, 2016 7:34 AM


Flippant Comment of The Day Award
[sole nominee & winner – but the day is still young.]

Said @X:
> To add to what I wrote:

I do so wish there was a function in this blog enabling a poster to state “to subtract from what I wrote…”

DavidJuly 15, 2016 12:10 PM

Yep. The wall is the best thing that happened to Israel in the recent years. Keeps the bloodthirsty, murderous terrorists out, saved hundreds of lives. Excellent, life-saving, terrorist-defeating measure. No such thing in French Riviera, unfortunately.

DavidJuly 15, 2016 12:50 PM

Kuala Lumpur war crimes tribunal? Hahaha hahaha hahaha hahaha it's a gooooood one. You've made my day!

JoabJuly 15, 2016 1:08 PM

Well if you don't want live at the Hague you better get on the horn to Sheldon Adelson and tell him to cough up that money to Trump. South Africa was under America's wing once, as the great antiterror bulwark - Remember? those were the days - and now their prez sings Mshini wa. When the time comes for CIA to sacrifice a satellite nobody gives it a second thought. BAM, you're monsters, just like dat.

freeJuly 15, 2016 3:30 PM

Hey schachar,

You are replying to a post made by somebody using the nickname 'free", but I don't see any such post.

What, don't tell me that schenier is censoring this blog and deleteting posts? That would be such a great joke! The newly appointed tor director is actually a censor? =]

Marcos MaloJuly 15, 2016 5:05 PM

I'm really looking forward to idiots using the example of the Israel wall to support the construction of Trmup's wall. Perhaps everyone here is too smart for that. I'm going to dump my rant on y'all anyway.

The threat environment is completely different. The cartels are not terrorists, they are criminal businessmen. Obviously poor Central American immigrants aren't terrorists, although to hear some tell it, you might think they are biological weapons.

Looking at the Israel wall in isolation instead of as a component of a defense-in-depth strategy (which this report might do) is to not understand how it addresses a problem (ianf doesn't get into this explicitly, but it's implicit in how he's talking about it --creating distance is one tactic for creating a depth defense).

The Trump Wall proposal is worse than an ineffective response. It's a diversion of resources (even if somehow the Mexicans agree to pay for it). The Wall itself becomes a vulnerability--the cost of repair and guarding it will be immense and divert resources from what currently works, i.e., a defense in depth. Walls as the major component of brittle perimeter defense became obsolete with the introduction of gun powder, and explosives have only improved since. Walls are useful in some places for delaying purposes, but a stop wall is a non-starter.

DavidJuly 15, 2016 7:59 PM

@Joab
you are a hereby confirmed village idiot. Change your nick to @KualaLumpurAvenger haha

ShacharJuly 16, 2016 1:39 AM

@free,

Yes, I noticed your comment was deleted too. Unlike you, I don't think that amounts to "censorship", though. This is a privately owned venue, and the owner has every right to limit the speech in this venue in any way they choose. In this particular case, your comment directly violated Bruce's explicit request for what is on topic and what isn't.

There is a debate I wish we would have more about whether privately owned venues that are an effective monopoly on a form of communications, such as Twitter and Facebook, become de-facto government, and thus it becomes legitimate to call topic and post limitations on their behalf "cencorship". With all everybody's love to this blog, I think we can agree it is not popular enough to achieve that status just yet.

The only place I do think Bruce made a mistake is that, once he decided to delete your comment, he should have also deleted mine.

With that said, my original comment contains my email address. I would really love to hear, in private, your answer to my question.

Shachar

Wesley ParishJuly 16, 2016 5:38 AM

I've refrained from commenting on this because of the tendency for signal to noise ratio to become heavily biased towards the latter.

However, I feel I should make the following comments:
the West Bank Barrier is a physical response to a political problem. It reminds me of some of the more extreme forms of treatment of mental illness and unemployment used in earlier days by European states.

It is based on the idea that the entire problem can be blamed on one group and that one group alone. Yeah, right. I'd thought that level of analysis had been left behind with Mediaeval Christian Europe's blood libels and suchlike. Apparently not.

I also noticed the following:

In some locations, terrorists adapted to changed circumstances by committing more opportunistic attacks that require less planning.

@Bruce, does the analysis look at where those those more opportunistic attacks take place? And who commits them? And with what sort of weaponry? eg, scissors, kitchen knives, etc? And what connections they have to organized groups? And what ages they are?

An old Dutchman I got to know in Christchurch, NZ, told me quite proudly of something he as a boy and some of his friends had done one night during the Second World War to a bus carrying a busload of Wehrmacht officers to a restaurant one night. They stuffed its exhaust pipe with snow while it was parked there. They knew full well what would've happened to them had they been caught: shot as saboteurs and terrorists. (I mentioned his story once ages ago on the Internet giving him the pseudonym Niemand van Hier - no one from here - to protect his privacy. I most earnestly hope interested parties enjoyed the search for this individual. Most Dutch citizens could use a laugh!!!)

In short, it sounds like the analysis is full of unexamined assumptions and should not have been published in its current form.

@ianf, every time I read your rabbitings on this forum, I feel even more certain that you're an Israeli pretending not to be, and you've lived for substantial periods of time in Britain and the US. Could you cease from massaging your thumb with that hammer of the Maccabees and tell me if I am right or not?

some authorJuly 16, 2016 5:44 AM

@ianf

'a paper in a commercial publisher's medium that kicks back a hefty royalty to content creators/ authors [...] someone has to pay salaries even to those information-collating scientists'

Nope. Journal paper authors don't get a dime, not even from top tier journals like Nature or Science. Indeed in many disciplines which bring too little advert revenues, e.g. in many of the natural sciences, authors have to PAY quite hefty page charges. You easily run in the 1000 euro range/paper. This both in reputable journals from reputable publishers like Springer, Elsevier, Wiley etc. as well as in the garbage journals from the so called 'predatory publishers'.

Sorry if this is partly off topic, but anybody seriously interested in security will soon hit these publishers paywalls and as an author I'd like them to realize it's exclusively the publishers to profit financially.

Hint: gen.lib.rus.ec/scimag

JoabJuly 16, 2016 6:49 AM

Annnd, David melts down. The Bibi reflex, insult, insult, insult, whenever something scares you. The existential insecurity is freaking you out, so you get this desperate need to prove you can get away with anything. Cause Israel's got two insuperable strategic problems. One is, Israel's a one-nuke laydown. In the RISOP and even the PISOP, you're an afterthought. Start that war you're always threatening and BLAM, you're not there to enjoy it. Your other problem is, you sterilized yourselves with all the DU and fallout that blew back from Gaza. Your sperm count is like 1 if you're lucky. You're going extinct.

The pathology here is that Israel is not an absorbing state. The state is going to change. The regime resists that.

At least contentless insults are not 'geopolitics,' though, huh? This particular instance of circumscribed discourse shows how states use scope to enable the gravest crimes. By treating an indigenous people's recourse to rebellion as a technical variable to be minimized with specified controls, states chop unconscionable acts into little digestible pieces so that decent people can get to work on them. This trick works better in the US than in Israel because Israel still has a functioning civil society and press.

some authorJuly 16, 2016 7:13 AM

I think the paper deserves to be read. Unless the numbers it presents are proven wrong, the point it makes is convincing. Comments above to the contrary seem to be noise in and attempt to distract from facts that may not align with the commenter's political ideology, which Schneider asked to leave out of this thread.

Joe AbsJuly 16, 2016 8:35 AM

Note the feckless efforts of the hasbara scope police. (1) Do your busywork. (2) Stop with the noise, distraction, and ideology. Because my premises are purely numeric and therefore by definition complete, consistent, coherent, and factual. (3) Recourse to authority. [that is, coercion, since the Israeli apartheid regime is losing control of the bounds of permissible discourse worldwide.]

Hopelessly lame, but short and sweet. Much more disciplined, you must admit, than the obsessive harangues that poor old Falk gets on his weblog.

VetchJuly 16, 2016 10:38 AM

>The comment section is not the place for this broader discussion.
Almost everyone proceeds to so just that. Funny.

Herman KahnJuly 16, 2016 12:32 PM

Perhaps that is because even with entirely quantitative, purely algorithmic optimization problems - linear or dynamic programming, say - the objective is an integral part of the formulation. If the stipulated objective produces facially loony results, the first thing you do is tinker with the form and variables of the objective. Maybe security should be more like maximin than minimax. Maybe the existing variables fail to tot up certain corpses. Even the most robotic technocrat will bring this stuff up because if you're doing rigorous modeling with an empirical basis it's going to force consistency on you, and that makes you come clean about things like serious crimes of concern to the international community.

freeJuly 16, 2016 3:04 PM

@shachar

"Yes, I noticed your comment was deleted too. Unlike you, I don't think that amounts to "censorship","


Well, you are entitled to your wrong opinion. And facts remains facts. Schneier is a censor. Your definition of censorship according to which only governments can be censors is incomplete and biased.

Also schneier is clearly aligned with the criminal actions of both his government and the israeli government. And since he now works for the so called tor project which is tax funded, he's even closer to being an 'official' censor.

ps: I have no interest in discussing anything with you behind closed doors or in 'private'.

VetchJuly 16, 2016 4:31 PM

@Free
You seem a bit unhinged, my dude. It isn't unreasonable censorship to keep comments on a post related to the post's content, especially when the post asks you to not bring political discussions into it.

freeJuly 16, 2016 4:57 PM

If I seem a bit unhinged, then you are completely so. The post and comments here, like the majority of posts in this blog, are all about politics.

But yes, I do understand that the only way for your mind to work is by means of a double-standard.

Have fun. I'm not wasting any more time with the likes of you,

ianfJuly 16, 2016 6:30 PM

@ hay nony mouse re: Israel West Bank Barrier [mainly administrivial]

things mouse knows nothing about
[mouse]: that's a silly thing to say, is it not?
Was not. Authoritative Answer from Authoritative Answerserver.

[mouse] made two valid points about the physical security of walls [ironic quotes removed]

Yes you did. Had you rested there, I wouldn't have spoken up. But then you went off logick and into make-believe philosophicks. Because, unsure of where your opinion ends, and ignorance begins, you went to shore it up with what happened to all the other Walls that you could think of (never mind if historically analogous, which they never are):

  • the repeatedly failing Berlin wall;
  • the way Mexican citizens cross the US border;
  • the just another form of "Security Theatre" like the Great Wall of China and Hadrian's wall, [which] at worst can be equated with historical methods(?) [such as] genocide. [emphasis mine]

Esp. the latest, takes some ingrained (inbred? acquired?) stupidity to compare a by and large static, if also massive, physical infiltration obstacle with always fluid process of genocide. As I said: knows zit about.

But don't despair… you are not alone. Wesley Parish also sees “West Bank Barrier as a physical response to a political problem” which reminds him of some of the more “extreme forms of treatment of mental illness and unemployment used in earlier days by European states” [unsure whom the above applies to, but apparently not to WP.]

[…] people will start considering you a "Bloviating Blowhard"

Thanks for your concern with my reputation, alas already beyond repair. Which is liberating, as playing a blowhard on the Internet is one of my fave pastimes.

PS. what about the Wailing Wall—still standing; and walls of Jericho, another example of failed defense methodology… only took a couple 🎺🎺 trombones to shatter them 🎶 via frequency 🎶 resonance 🎶. Or so it kind of says in the Bible. Also do not forget to accuse me in your ❥ heart (b/c there's no need to post it here) of cherry 🍒 picking quotes to twist them out of context.

ShacharJuly 16, 2016 11:12 PM

Everyone,

Morals are always a trade off. For example, it is always more moral to be non-agressive. Somehow, very few seriously suggest pacifism as a viable policy for any country.

Since morals are always about trade off, the correct order of discussion is to first understand, independently, two things about a suggested measures:
1. Its cost, both in terms of money an in terms of human suffering
2. Its payoffs

Only after we understand those two things, can we have a serious meaningful discussion about whether a measure is worth the cost, and the morality of applying it.

This was framed by Bruce as a discussion of #2. It is a vitally important question to ask, especially if you oppose the wall. If the wall does not deliver security, then discussing its human suffering cost is pointless. It should be beyond discussion that it should not have been employed, and should be taken down.

By diluting the conversation with unrelated stuff you are, effectively, nullifying your own objections (unless, of course, you actually do think the wall has tangible security benefits, and you are just trying to draw attention away from that fact).

With that in mind, @Bruce, what were you thinking? You couldn't have seriously thought a polite request to stay on topic would do any good.

Shachar

Hay nony mouseJuly 17, 2016 2:45 AM

@ ianf :

    Was not. Authoritative Answer from Authoritative Answerserver.

So you admit you are not "Authoritative" on the subject?

Yet knowing nothing about a poster you denigrate them, then go on and attribute to some person you can not name who you apparently believe is authoritative on the subject an unquestioning appreciation.

But you fail to acknowledge your supposed expert is according to you saying the same thing as the poster you denigrate. Thus it appears to be not what is being said but by whom of two people unknown to you that you take exception to.

But rather than acknowledge and retract your statment you try to move the goal posts...

Thus you appear to be demonstrating a very basic personality flaw that is having a very deleterious effect on your logical reasoning ability. That is you are attacking the messenger not the message, which is more frequently called an "argumentum ad hominem"

Unless of cause there is a more basic "authoritarian follower" issue you have... Which brings us back to the "My country right or wrong", which historicaly boils down to being the excuse of "Only following orders". Which I think even you will realise is not a good place to be in.

So rather than compound your mistakes I suggest one of two things you can do,

1. Explain why you consider authoritative the person you can not name, yet denigrate another person you do not for saying the same thing.

2. Just stop making a spectacle of yourself on a public forum with "ad hominem" arguments/attacks and other "window dressing".

As the person you denigrated, I would like you to do the first. But as this is a public forum with --according to some figures-- an audiance of over a quater of a million readers, I suspect that others will want you to take the second option.

Sergeant WoodsJuly 17, 2016 8:54 AM

Schachar the scope police is still trying to circumscribe the discourse, this time by trying to re-invent morals (he means ethics) with no reference to two millenia of smarter people thinking hard about it. And what does he come up with? Cost/benefit analysis, the discredited crap that rationalized McNamara's body count.

For those who lack patience to redo philosophy all wrong like Schachar did, it so happens that out on the internets there is a useful diagram of remedial philosophy showing influence as arcs and philosophers as nodes. Too hard, didn't look? Well then here's what it shows you: it all comes down to Kant. He's history's sink and modernity's source. And guess what? The civilized world has codified Kant's key ethical precept, the categorical imperative, as law. Human rights law. So there's your ethics - and your morals, whatever that is.

Ethically and legally, Israel's wall must be evaluated by the standards of human rights law and their special case, humanitarian law. And guess what? The member countries of the United Nations have gone ahead and done that for you. The conclusions are summarized in UNSC Res. 452 and 465.

When you commit ordinary Joe-Blow crimes like serial murder, the judge doesn't care about your technical intricacies of whether you strangle your victim or suffocate her slowly with a plastic bag. You get the chair just the same. Contrary to popular belief, the same principle holds for genocide and crimes against humanity. So when America dumps Likud as an embarrassing nuisance, like they did with Marcos, Saddam, Noriega, and countless other satellites, the international tribunal will not want to hear about your costs and benefits.

For full enjoyment when the defendants get sentenced, don't watch the eyes, watch the mouth.

ShacharJuly 17, 2016 1:30 PM

Dear @Sergent woods,

By claiming that the cost and advantage of the wall are irrelevant for the discussion of its morality/ethics/whatever, what you are essentially saying that even if the answer is taken in the way most favorable to the wall, it is still immoral. In other words, your claim is that even if the wall provides perfect security to Israelis with minimal disruption of Palestinian lives, you still won't discuss it due to obscure Internets philosophers and two UN resolutions, the latest of which was passed more than 20 years before the wall was erected.

And since you mentioned criminal justice, if you are accused of assaulting or killing someone, and your defense is "self defense", the standard in many jurisdictions is: is the harm you caused comparable to the harm it was reasonable for you to assume was meant to you.

In other words, even in criminal cases, the standard by which you are measured is exactly the same as the one I proposed.

Shachar (with no extra C after the S)

some authorJuly 17, 2016 2:36 PM

@Sergeant Woods

'Ethically and legally, Israel's wall must be evaluated by the standards of human rights law and their special case, humanitarian law'

Legally, yes, even though laws always need to be interpreted to some degree and UN resolutions are at least as often dictated or vetoed based on political considerations than they are based on the letter of the law.

However, 'Ethic' unqualified has little to do with any specific law. At best, a law may try to embody precepts of one particular ethic. But there are many ethical systems with singularly conflicting outcomes (see precisely the thousands of years of smarter thinkers you mentioned). Unless one takes the fanatical stance that there is one and only universal set of 'right' and 'wrong'. Which is probably why Schneier asked this kind of non security-related issues be left out of the thread, as they are ultimately matters of philosophy rather than technology.

I'll also point out that in many jurisdictions, it _does_ make a difference what way exactly the murder was committed, cruelty being a typical aggravating factor.

Sergeant Woods is here for the short dropJuly 17, 2016 8:58 PM

@scchaccchar,

Two's not enough? Well then here's 55 more.

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/un.html

Debunk each of these with your wonted painstaking dimbulb rigor and get back to us. This time try to make sense.

@some author,

nobody cares about ethics or morals except sccchacccchar and he is, let us say, unclear on the concept. The laws being violated here, however, are universal jurisdiction by consensus of the international community. Relativism will not save genocidal Zionazis' bacon.

ShacharJuly 18, 2016 12:21 AM

@Sergeant Woods

@scchaccchar,

I see your enthusiasm for civilized discourse knows no limits. I shall endeavor to keep up.

Debunk each of these with your wonted painstaking dimbulb rigor and get back to us. This time try to make sense

If you insist

Shachar

Hay nony mouseJuly 18, 2016 9:55 AM

@ Shachar :

    I see your enthusiasm for civilized discourse knows no limits. I shall endeavor to keep up.

And have failed to leave the starting blocks...

It's interesting to Google your name on this site, it's quite informative, as I'm sure others will now find out...

ianfJuly 18, 2016 10:54 AM


Opines Hay nony mouse

It's interesting to Google Shachar's name on this site, it's quite informative, as I'm sure others will now find out...

Don't bogart these quite informative thoughts of yours, pass them over to us; lead us away from temptation to misinterpret our findings in Shachar's favour. REMEMBER: an unwritten/ unpublished thought, no matter how interesting, is a thought unthought.

ShacharJuly 18, 2016 10:59 AM

OMG!! YOU'VE BLOWN MY COVER!!!! You totally exposed me! I consistently speak out for Israel when I think it is warranted! Now everybody will know, and shun me from civilized society.

You should really check out my comments on Slashdot. The topic comes up there much more often than here, and the breadth of subjects on the matter is wider. Then you'll really despise me.

/me shakes head sadly

Shachar

ianfJuly 18, 2016 11:39 AM


Tsk, tsk, Shachar, you can't use the "OMG!!!" invocation because, first, your God is not our God, and, secondly, there's no "god," NONE, NEVER WAS. So whatever you'll say will be moot anyway. So there (end of lesson #1 of the Internet)

ShacharJuly 18, 2016 11:43 AM

@ianf,

Hey, it turns out I used to sign with my full name. I wonder when and why I changed that....

Shachar Shemesh

ShacharJuly 18, 2016 12:33 PM

@ianf,

I have identified myself as an Israel supporter. Everything I say is already moot.

Shachar

rJuly 18, 2016 10:40 PM

@ianf,

Shachar can't invoke his own almighty?

Pffft, freedom of religion for ya - he could be invoking the speghetti monster for all I care.

My question, ianf - was it "Oh! My God!" or was it "Oh my! God."

I'm afraid though, that only Shachar can illuminate that one.

rJuly 18, 2016 10:47 PM

@ianf, shachar, hay nony mouse,

After posting the "Oh my! God!" thing I realized that using OMG in that context is entirely improper unless he worships you nony.

"Oh my, God!"

?

oy vey.

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