719-683-2041 Contact us

Heartland Story: Protecting Lives with “Smart” Lenses

One early morning in Sansana, a community nestled in the western tips of southern Judea, Omer, a contractor, was ready to start another day earning an honest living for himself and his family. Omer approached his equipment consisting of a tractor and two trucks, but to his surprise, he saw a suspicious person leaning on his tractor. Omer immediately stiffened, preparing for a confrontation. He already knew where this was going. The atmosphere grew tense as the man confronted Omer with an offer that, in this region, was hard for many to refuse – pay a monthly protection fee to an Arab Bedouin gang or face dire consequences. If he chose not to pay, the gang would destroy his expensive equipment and livelihood. It was an all too familiar scenario in the Hebron Hills where Bedouin gangs have all too often extorted farmers and business owners into paying them protection fees.

Directly southwest of Sansana, in the Negev region, Bedouin gangs operate with alarming impunity, relentlessly spreading their criminal activities into the surrounding areas. These gangs have been responsible for burglary, vandalism and theft, creating an atmosphere of insecurity throughout the Hebron Hills region. Compounding the challenge, the specialized police units in the Negev, trained to handle these Bedouin gangs, lack jurisdiction to operate in Judea. As a result, the people of Sansana have lived under a constant looming threat of extortion and crime.

Faced with these daunting challenges, Sansana’s security team conceived of a solution – an advanced “smart” camera system that could swiftly alert the community of potential security threats. Making this vision a reality required substantial funding, but Sansana’s leadership was uncertain where to turn for help. A ray of hope emerged when a resident of Sansana learned of CFOIC Heartland and the invaluable assistance
provided by Christians worldwide to communities in Judea and Samaria. They reached out to CFOIC Heartland for help and you, our generous donors, heeded the call – in record time! Thanks to your support, Sansana installed a “smart” surveillance system around half of the community’s perimeter. The results were nothing short of extraordinary. “For the first time, our security personnel can identify unusual events and react most effectively,” exclaimed Gershon Zalka, a dedicated volunteer for Sansana’s security team.

When Sansana’s civilian security coordinator Netanel Marx learned of Omer’s predicament, he felt fully confident the new surveillance system would enable him in to thwart the Bedouin’s threat. Fearing the loss of his valuable equipment and livelihood, Omer was initially willing to succumb to the extortion demand. Netanel reassured Omer that the community’s security team would be able to safeguard his equipment. He instructed Omer to park his vehicles near one of the large camera towers that would enable Sansana’s security team to closely monitor the equipment and protect his equipment from acts of retribution. “When we identified the gang leader, a member of a known criminal Bedouin family and someone with whom we have had numerous run-ins, we sent him a message informing him about the surveillance cameras,” recounted Netanel. And it worked like a charm! “Once the gang understood that we would see them and respond the second they would ever breach our boundaries, they backed down,” Netanel added. Thanks to your support, the small business owners of Sansana can earn an honest living without the threat of extortion and continue growing their community.

Given Sansana’s immediate proximity to the Security Barrier, the community had experienced frequent hostile infiltrations by Palestinian Arabs attempting to cross vulnerable points in the Barrier. The people of Sansana had lived in constant fear, witnessing infiltrators scale the wall, all the while knowing there was no protection in place. “Until we had the cameras, there was no way to deter these infiltrators, and the residents were acutely aware of this reality. Now, we can all finally breathe a sigh of relief,” Netanel emphasized. With the new surveillance system, Sansana can quickly and efficiently identify and respond to these security threats. Families feel much safer now, able to go about their everyday lives as they continue developing Biblical Israel.

Sansana’s security team conveyed their deepest thanks: “We remain very appreciative and express our heartfelt gratitude to all the donors of CFOIC!” Thank you for your unwavering support! Your commitment to standing with the people of Sansana has created a more secure and peaceful environment for them to raise their families and develop the Biblical Heartland.