“The vital importance of this firing zone to the IDF stems from the unique topographical character of the area, which allows for training methods specific to both small and large frameworks, from a squad to a battalion,” the Israeli defense ministry wrote last month.
"The area in question is characterized by numerous security threats, including the presence of illegal residents and criminal and terror elements. In response to these threats, ongoing and routine IDF exercises are carried out to deal with these security concerns. Part of the IDF's response to terror and criminal threats is a high level of familiarity with the area in question and those who inhabit it and thus a degree of surveillance is necessary," the IDF wrote in an e-mail to the Monitor this week.
Firing zones make up about 18 percent of the West Bank, and about 45 percent of all demolitions of Palestinian structures in the Israeli controlled sections of the West Bank since 2010 took place in such firing zones, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The West Bank is split into three zones – Area A, under full Palestinian control; Area B, under joint Israeli-Palestinian control; and Area C, under full Israeli control. For the estimated 150,000 Palestinians (a small fraction of the Palestinian population in the West Bank) living among the 300,000 Israeli settlers in Area C, building permits are extremely diffcult to get – but without them, Palestinians in Area C cannot legally build and establish permanent residency. Area C makes up about 60 percent of the West Bank.