the route, settlements, and water resources
studies throughout the West Bank:
Dis. Jerusalem area
Sharqiya Enclave. Jenin area.
Bibliography & Resources
will continue to discuss and to dialogue with Palestinians on how best to make
sure that the fence sends the right signal. Our
security is the main issue, but the ability for the Palestinians to live a
normal life is important as well", Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, 30 July 2003. The Guardian.
“First, if we had built this fence on the '67
borders, it would have been a political fence. Where we are building it now on
this route it is a security fence. And I would like you to know, fence is
moveable. We're already experienced with a fence--we moved a fence in Egypt
after we signed the peace treaty with them”, Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan
Shalom, 9 February 2004.
On Line NewsHour.
“The war against terror continues, and it does not
stop, and we have to carry on this war and make every possible effort to stop
it, including the defensive fence, which is a very important measure in order
to reduce the level of activities by the terrorists. Israel
totally rejects the decision of the world court at The
Hague. He described it as a one-sided decision
based only on political considerations”, Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon,
12 July 2004.
"This is a fascist, apartheid measure being done, and we do
not accept it. We will continue rejecting it by all means”, Palestinian
Authority Chairman, Yasser Arafat, 18 June 2002. CNN.com.
barrier which is still being built is an ‘apartheid’ measure that would put Palestinians
in cantons. We well go for a one-state solution. There is no other solution. We
will not hesitate to defend the right of our people when we feel the very
serious intention of (Israel) to destroy these rights”,
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia (AbuAla), 9
January 2004. Washington Times
“The barrier is only a contingency plan
in the event that the Palestinians fail to become a reliable partner”. United
States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, 9 January 2004. Washington Times.
"I would like to say that the EU position on
the line of the fence is well known by everyone in Israel.
We don't like it; we disagree with it. All the European countries support the
right of Israel
to defend itself but you have to balance the security needs with humanitarian
needs of the Palestinians. The fence goes through occupied territories and from
the very beginning we have been against that”, European Union High Representative
for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, 22 July 2004.
I know it's the conventional wisdom that fences
make good neighbors, but that is if you build a fence on your own land and you
don't disrupt your neighbor's life”, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, 31 July
has the right to take reasonable, necessary and proportionate measures to
protect the security of its citizens and its borders. These include measures to
prevent the entry into Israel
of Palestinians or others who are reasonably suspected of intending to carry
out suicide bombings or other attacks. However, Israel does not have a right to
unlawfully destroy or confiscate Palestinian land and property and hinder the
movements of Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories in order to
consolidate its control over land which is being used for illegal Israeli
settlements”, Amnesty International, 11 July 2003.
I. Security reasons or land control?
In accordance with the position held by the
Israeli Government, the protection of the Israeli population against Palestinian
suicide bomber attacks carried out inside Israel stands for the official reason
by which the erection of the ‘security barrier’ has been starting.
In truth, it would be extremely superficial to discern
the ongoing construction of the barrier from the issue that has been
representing the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the inception
of the IsraeliState in 1948: the control over the
The transformation of the ‘Green Line’, which
separated the opposing forces, in a border between the newly created Israeli
State and the Jordanians on the West Bank, in 1948; the occupation of the
Palestinian Territories, both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the
consequent establishment of Jewish settlements after the 1967 War; the division
and the classification of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in three main
areas with different degrees of jurisdiction after Oslo Agreements, clearly point
up how the control of the land has always been a key issue of the conflict.
As far as the current situation is concerned,
the conflict has entered in a stage in which watch-towers, patrol roads,
ditches, the continuing enlargement of settlements and above all the construction
of the ‘separation barrier’ can be interpreted as new attempts aimed to extend
the control over the land and drawnew
and wider boundaries up.
On this basis, the construction of the barrier began
in 2002, ideally and originally following the ‘Green Line’, trespasses inside
territory remarkably, embracing some of the largest Israeli settlements and
determining the so called “fingers” in the Palestinian area. In the end, the
completion of the entire planned route, scheduled for the end of 2004, would
leave only between forty and fifty per cent of the whole West Bank territory in Palestinian hands,
with the obvious result of dividing the Palestinian land in several cantons.
On Israeli side, the completion of the
‘separation barrier’, besides improving security issues, will undoubtedly
procure a number of significant and notorious advantages, particularly
regarding the whole control on the Palestinian enclaves as well as on the movements
of Palestinian people throughout the West Bank.
Eventually, although the construction of the
barrier continues to be claimed as a temporary measure by the Israeli authorities,
it makes particularly difficult to accept as true the Israeli government’s
commitment towards the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian State
encompassing both the Gaza Strip and West Bank as demanded by the ‘Road Map’,
the internationally recognised peace-process backed by United States, European
Union, Russia, and United Nations.
II. Chronological developments
The idea of a barrier separating Israel
from the OccupiedTerritories
is not a new one. Physical barriers between Israeli and Palestinians were first
proposed by Yitzhak Rabin in October 1994.
Initially, in 1994, Rabin’s
government built up the Israeli-Gaza Strip barrier, a separation barrier running
along the armistice line of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In early 1995, the Shahal commission was established to discuss how to
implement a barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians. Prior to the Camp
David 2000 Summit, Israeli Prime
Minister, EhudBarak, vowed
to build a separation wall, stating that this implementation “is essential
to the future Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and
independence without being dependent on the IsraeliState”.
Although the Israeli Government
of present Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was hesitant to construct the barrier,
it finally embraced the plan. According to the Israeli Government position, the
stated purpose behind the construction of the separation wall is to prevent
Palestinian suicide bombing attacks and infiltrations by Palestinians from
entering Israeli cities, a problem which has mainly plagued Israel
since the inception of the second Intifada Al-Aqsa, started on 28th
of September 2000.
Most of the separation barrier
consists of a wire fence with an exclusion area on each side, often including
an anti-vehicle trench. Differently, some sections consist of an up to 8 meters
concrete wall, such as near Qalqiliya and Jerusalem
area. In all cases there are regular observation posts, automated sensing
devices and other various apparatuses. There are also gates at diverse places
which are controlled by Israeli soldiers when they are not closed.
A second barrier adjacent to the first
apparatus, called the “depth barrier”, and consisting of a 25m trench filled
with barbed wire, surrounds communities in the Jenin and Tulkarm district,
effectively fencing them in.
Trench filled with barbed wire in Jenin area.
The maps of the ‘wall route’
surprised many and sparked harsh criticism as they showed that the wall was not
following the ‘Green Line’, the 1967 border between the West Bank and Israel. It
in fact derogates from this line in such a way that it completely destroys the
territorial contiguity of the West Bank, cutting in
deeply from west and east to secure large Israeli settlement blocs, and running
in twisted lines and loops of far more length than the 320 km of the Green Line.
Most of the barrier has indeed
been erected in the West Bank territory and not along
the ‘Green Line’, perpetrating serious human rights violations for the
Palestinians living near the separation wall.The construction of the barrier within the West Bank
has been provoking a number of enclaves completely closed by the barrier and
new restrictions for the Palestinians’ freedom of movement.
The first phase of the Wall’s
construction, which was a 145 kilometers long wall stretching its way inside
the northwestern West Bank, in the area of Tulkarm,
Qalqiliya and Jenin, has begun in June 2002. Already in its first segment, the
wall derogated the planned route along the “Green Line’, reaching up to 6
kilometers inside the West Bank, cutting off between the
Wall and the Green Line almost 122,000 donums, de facto annexing 2% of the West
Bank territory to Israel.
In October 2003, the region
between the separation wall and the ‘Green Line’, named as “seam area”, was
declared as a special military area for an indefinite period of time. This area
includes about 9 Palestinian villages, populated by 5,200 persons, and 10
Israeli settlements, inhabited by 22,000 settlers.
While all Israelis and Jews
regardless of nationality get freely access to the region, Palestinians, even
if they are residents of one of the dozens of villages in the region, are not
allowed to enter unless they have been granted special permits from Israeli
authorities. Actually, permits are frequently refused. On this regard, all
Palestinians over the age of 12, residing in the so called “seam area”, are
forced to attain a permanent resident permit for continuing to live in their
In February 2004, in reaction to
pressure from Palestinians’ concerns and human rights organizations’ protests
and campaigns against the ‘Apartheid Wall’, Israel
made public its alleged intention of reviewing the route of the barrier.
Particularly, Israeli cabinet members said modifications would have been made
reducing the number of checkpoints Palestinian people had to cross, and
diminishing Palestinian hardship in some areas, such as Qalqilya,
where the barrier goes very near, and in some cases encircles inhabited areas .
The supposed modifications to the
route, decided by the Israeli governments, would involve the following areas:
The barrier encircled the
villages of Baqa a-Sharqiya, Nazlat’Issa, and Nazlat Abu Nar isolating their
inhabitants, nearly 6,200, from the rest of the West Bank
territory. Additionally, the barrier cut off the farmers of the villages of
Qaffin, Nazlat al-Wusta, and Nazlat al-Gharbiya from their land. Last summer
the Israeli authorities ordered the construction of a supplementary section of
the barrier, made by eight – meter - high concrete wall. On February 2004, it
has been reported that Israel
has started tearing down the original fragment of the barrier.
2. Barta'a a-Sharqiya
The barrier erected by Israel
is located about 3 km east of this village, inhabited by 3,200 persons. The
barrier has completely separated Barta'a a-Sharqiya from Jenin, the biggest
town in the area, where the villagers used to have all their basic services,
such as schools, medical services, work places, etc. According to some media
would intend to move the barrier on the west side of the village, running along
the ‘Green Line’, but, at the time of writing, no development has been
The town has been completely
encircled by eight – foot concrete wall, isolating its 35,000 residents. The
only entrance of the town is patrolled by an Israeli checkpoint remarkably
restricting the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people residing in the
area. According to various media reports, Israel
would plan to remove a one – kilometer stretch of the wall east of the town on
both sides of the main road bringing to the town.
The ‘separation wall’ stretches
out few hundreds meters from the village, housing about 300 residents. It has
cut off any communication with Tulkarm, the largest town in the area, where
most of the villagers used to get all their basic services. The barrier also
separates Khirbet Jubara from a-Ras:
the two villages are strongly linked, sharing services, infrastructures and
land. In accordance with various media reports, the Israeli Authorities would
plan to move the barrier westward, closer to the ‘Green Line’
III. International & legal pronouncements
1. Israeli High Court
On 29th February 2004 Mohammed Dahla, the attorney
representing the village council of Beit Surik, took the case to the Israeli
High Court for the first time. The Palestinian Community’s legal representative
challenged the legality of a 40km stretch of the barrier and of the orders
issued for the seizure of land upon which the barrier would be built. The
petitions were brought against the Government of Israel and the Commander of
the IDF Forces in the West Bank.
The High Court stated: “we
accept that the military commander cannot order the construction of the
Separation Fence if its reasons are political. The Separation Fence cannot be
motivated by a desire to “annex” territories to the state of Israel.
The purpose of the Separation Fence cannot be to draw a political border”.
The court also agreed that the “military commander of territory held in
belligerent occupation must balance between the needs of the army on the one
hand and the needs of the local inhabitants on the other”.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled
that a contentious section of the barrier gravely violates the rights of
thousands of Palestinian residents by separating them from their farmland in “a
veritable chokehold, which will severely stifle daily life”.
Moreover, the 34-page dossier,
issued by a three judge panel, stated that a partially completed portion of the
route “established for the security fence – which separates the local
inhabitants from their agricultural lands – injures the local inhabitants in a
severe and acute way, while violatingtheir rights under humanitarian
international law”. Again, according to the decision, constructing the
fence in a way separating the Palestinian farm owner from their land “severely
violates their rights of property and their freedom of movement and the
difficult reality of life from which they have suffered will only become more
However the Israeli High Court
ordered changes in just small parts of the planned course of the wall,
avoidingsuggesting any alternative new
route for the changes, on the basis that ”the military commander must
determine an alternative which will provide a fitting, if not ideal, solution
for the security considerations”.
Nevertheless the court went on to
say that it did not believe that the barrier was motivated by political
reasons, as alleged by the Palestinian petitioners, but by security concerns.
Interestingly the Supreme Court took the view that the deviation of the barrier
from the ‘Green Line’ was notevidence that the motivation was political
and not based on security; rather, it said, the opposite is the case: a barrier
built only along the Green Line would by definition be one that puts political
concerns against security concerns. Anyhow, the justices repeatedly admonished
the Israeli military for failing to adhere to both domestic and international
law requiring it to “take the needs of the local population into account”.
Finally, the court firmly
criticized the Israeli government for failing to achieve its promises to
compensate all the Palestinian farmers and land owners whose land had been
In consequence of the High Court
judgment and the required changes to the route, residents of settlements in the
West Bank are also planning to submit petitions to the
High Court, claiming that their rights will be infringed by the revised route.
They say that they will be separated from their land and from larger cities,
and as a result they will suffer economic and social deprivation. At the time
of writing the result of these petitions is not known.
2. International Court of Justice
2003, the General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the International
Court of Justice (ICJ) to make an advisory (non-binding) ruling on the
"legal consequences arising" from the construction of the barrier.
The hearings began in February 2004. The Palestinian Authority is not a
member of the court but was allowed to make a submission by virtue of being a
UN observer and a co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolution. In January
2004, the court also authorized the League of Arab States and the Organization
of the Islamic Conference to make submissions.
The ICJ rendered the advisory
opinion on 9th July 2004.
The Court condemned the Wall in
its entirety on OccupiedPalestinianLand; it did not consider legal
consequences for those parts of the barrier which were built on the territory
of Israel itself.
The ICJ decisions were as follows.
construction of the wall being built by Israel,
the occupying Power, in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory,
including in and around East Jerusalem, and its
associated régime, is contrary to international law;
under an obligation to determinate its breaches of international law; it
is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the
wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and
around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein
situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative
and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of
is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the
construction of the wall in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory,
including in and around East Jerusalem;
States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation
resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or
assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; all
States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection
of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have in addition the
obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international
law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as
embodied in that Convention;
United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security
Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an
end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and
the associated régime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion.
The decisions were passed 14-1 by
the court judges, except for the 4th decision which was passed 13-2.
IV. Israeli perspective
As far as the Israeli position is
maintains that the construction of the barrier is a temporary measure with the
main purpose of protecting the Israeli civilian population, in reaction to
numerous suicide bombing attacks emanating from the OccupiedPalestinianTerritories.
With regard to the differing routes of the barrier and the Green Line
respectively, there are two contentions relevant to the Israeli position:
1. Since the Government of Israel
does not agree with the status of the ‘Green Line’ as the borderline between
Israel and Palestine in a future two state solution, but rather argues that
borders have still to be negotiated in future peace agreements, the route of
the barrier consequently does not violate any Israeli obligations.
2. Even if the internationally
accepted ‘Green Line’ served as the borderline between the two future Israeli
and Palestinian states, the route of the barrier would not constitute a
political statement about Israel’s future territorial claims, since the barrier
is solely of a security nature and its route is based on security reasons, not
political reasons. Furthermore, if the ‘Green Line’ were the route of the
barrier, it would in fact be politically motivated.
V. Effects on Palestinian daily life
Palestinian communities have been
experiencing massive destruction by construction of the “Apartheid Wall” so
far. Agricultural land is razed; irrigation networks damaged; water resources isolated;
homes and community infrastructure demolished. The access to land, markets, and
the freedom to move around for employment reasons and family visits has been,
additionally, heavily obstructed.
The Wall has created numerous
Palestinian enclaves. Some of them are surrounded by it on three sides with a
gate; others are surrounded by the wall, settlements and checkpoints. Already
in the first phase of its construction (Jenin-Tulkarm-Qalqiliya), Palestinian
sources stated that the ‘Apartheid Wall’ destroyed at least 30 km of water
networks, uprooted 102,320 trees, and demolished 85 commercial buildings as
well as several agricultural shelters. Approximately 65 communities are
directly affected by construction of the Wall on their lands, including more
than 200,000 people. 14,680 dunums (1 Dunum = 1000 m²) of land were seized for the
construction of the barrier.
The huge concrete wall totally surrounding the
town of Qalqiliya. July 2003.
Roughly 6000 Palestinians now
live in enclaves between the barrier and the Green Line. In addition to this,
about 40,000 Palestinians live in enclaves completely surrounded by the
barrier. About 90 square kilometers of land are now situated between the
barrier and the Green Line (not including East Jerusalem).
The Wall in Bethlehem disconnects
the city from Jerusalem and from
the rest of the West Bank, also separating communities
encompassing the area.
In North Jerusalem,
holders from Kufr Aqab and Qalandiya Refugee Camp are isolated from the city.
Relations between the 200,000 Palestinian residents of East
Jerusalem and Palestinians in the West Bank
are cut off, isolating this commercial, social, religious, and historical
center of Palestine and fortifying
the Israeli closure and siege policy in the West Bank.
Landowners and farm workers whose
fields are now located west of the barrier have to apply for permits, allowing them
to pass through gates or checkpoints controlled by the Israeli army, in order
to reach their fields. Also residents living in the villages adjacent to the
barrier need to attain resident permits. Besides the limited and insufficient
working hours of the gates, the process of attaining permits under the ‘permit
regime’ is troublesome, and permits often have to be renewed after short time
periods or are arbitrarily denied without any clarification but for unexplained
In effect, the ‘permit régime’ makes land west of the barrier or in its
‘military zone’ inaccessible to its Palestinian owners, or at least lead to the
deterioration of cultivated lands.
The barrier cuts villages from
the urban centers in the West Bank, making access to
markets difficult. In this way problems are created for the local farmers whose
land was not seized to sell the agricultural products which provide for their
livelihood. Access to medical care and to schools is strongly prejudiced too.
On all sections of the barrier,
ways are prolonged for the residents to reach any destination, since passage is
only possible through the few gates in the barrier, which are not all operated
all the time, some not at all.
Ways of a few hundred meters have changed into a many kilometers.
Separation barrier’s negative
environmental effects are exceptionally clear, especially in those sections in
which it runs as concrete wall. It destroys landscapes – tens of thousands of
trees have already been uprooted for its construction, and fields paved for the
strip of roads adjacent to the fence.
The psychological effects on the
people are immeasurable: the ‘apartheid wall’ annihilates not only their
livelihoods but their whole way of life. Always at direct sight, it is the most
vivid expression of injustice and hopelessness for the Palestinians residing in
the West Bank territory.
Furthermore, the Israeli
government is showing nothing but indifference to the grave human rights
violations connected to the construction of its ‘separation barrier’ and
causing awful troubles to the huge number of Palestinians subjected to it.
It is self evident that the
Israeli population has the right to live in peace and security but the
Palestinian population is, at the same time and at the same level, absolutely
entitled to get a decorous and respectable life.
VI. Relation between the wall,
settlements, and water resources
The route of the already
constructed barrier shows that there are additional objectives besides the
physical separation between Israeli population centers in Israel
and Palestinian population centers in the West Bank:
1.The ‘inclusion’ on the Israeli side of
the barrier of as many Israeli settlements as possible, (at the same time
‘exclusion’ of as many Palestinian residential areas as possible – ‘more land,
2.Remaining or establishing Israeli control
over vital water resources in the area.
Jenin and Tulkarm areas are the “corn belt” of the West
Bank. In addition, Tulkarm and Qalqiliya are important for
providing the West Bank with water. The underlying water
problem is of high significance in connection with the route of the barrier.
The West Bank supplies the area with three main
groundwater basins: the Western Aquifer, the Northeastern Aquifer, and the
The Tulkarm and Qalqiliya areas
are particularly rich in wells water from the Western Aquifer, the water of
which is of exceptionally high quality. This area is therefore of vital
interest and importance to Israel,
as well as to the Palestinians. In the eastern part of the West Bank,
valley supplies Israel
with the Eastern Aquifer water. Thus many Israeli settlements, provided with
large agricultural infrastructure are just located in the above mentioned valley.
Palestinians have no access to the Eastern Aquifer groundwater.
Fifty wells are stated to have
been affected in the first phase of construction of the Wallr
(either isolated west of the barrier or in the ‘military zone’), in addition to
more than 200 cisterns. 25 wells and cisterns have been destroyed during the construction
of the barrier, so far. The importance of the wells arrives from the location
of main wells and springs in the West Bankbefore-mentioned
restriction on water usage in the West Bank: the 67
wells in Tulkarm and 75 wells in Qalqiliya represent the West Bank’s
sole access to the Western Aquifer.
The barrier derogates from the
Green Line south and north of Tulkarm. North of Tulkarm, opposite the Baqa al-Gharbiya village west of the Green Line, it ran
east of the three Palestinian villages Nazlat ‘Isa, Baqa Ash-Sharqiya, and Nazlat An-Nar, leaving them on the
‘Israeli side’, despite the ‘separation’ idea of the fence. The apparent reason
for this route was to secure Israel’s
control over the wells of this area.
At the same time a secondary barrier was constructed west of the villages, in
order to cut off access of the residents to Israel
proper. This left the area completely fenced-in, causing severe humanitarian
hardship to the residents.
Due to immense protest by human
rights groups, this section of the barrier was changed, in order to ease the
residents’ difficulties in reaching their fields and schools. However,
residents complain that the new barrier route still cuts them off from wells
and restricts their access to water on their side of the fence.
The route of the barrier suggests
determination to keep control over wells in the area, usually in combination
with construction of the barrier around settlements. The control over water can
be gained by the settlers in autonomous actions.
Examples for the inclusion of
Israeli settlements can be seen in the already existing parts of the barrier in
the Tulkarm area. Small sections of the fence run parallel to the Green Line on
Palestinian lands, but most of it is winding its way through occupied
Palestinian land, for example south of Tulkarm to ‘include’ on the western side
of the fence the Israeli settlements of Sal’it and Zufin, and far north of Tulkarm the settlements of Rekhan, TalMenashe,
Hinnanit, and Shaqed.
Linking the settlements to Israel
does not refer to the built-up area solely; it includes the ‘municipal
boundaries’ of the settlements and areas under jurisdiction of ‘regional
councils’, which often render the settlement area much larger and provide for
future settlement expansion.
Regarding the planned fence in
the southern West Bank, the rather spectacular case of the ‘cave dwellers’ in Susiya village in the southern Hebron Hills received much
media coverage. The Israeli government tries to expel the Susiya
residents from their living places, presumably in order to annex parts of the
southern West Bank by constructing the barrier all
around the large settlements of the area. The State argues that the cave
dwellers’ buildings were erected without building permits. At the same time
illegal settlement outposts flourish not far from the village, some of which
were erected on private Palestinian land.
Following the Israeli High Court
demand to revise the route of the barrier, the Israeli settler population is
concerned that as a result of re-routing the fence, settlements could find
themselves east of the barrier, i.e. on the Palestinian side.
In response, Israeli Prime
MinisterSharon hasrepeatedly confirmed that “the large
settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma’aleAdumim
and Gush Etzion will be on the Israeli side of the
separation fence”, giving the precise reason for the interruption in the
Jerusalem part of the barrier east of Ma’aleAdumim: the settlement is intended to be enlarged, and only
the future complete bloc is supposed to be surrounded by the fence.
Besides the blatant violation of
and provisions under the Road Map to freeze all settlement activities, this
strategy contrasts both the security purpose of the barrier in that it leaves a
break in the fence, and the temporary nature of the ‘separation wall’ in that
it is apparently planned to be built in the future without any given time
limit. Instead the Israeli Prime Minister does not even try to conceal the
political character of the ‘anti-terrorist fence’ in its intention to annex
large settlement blocs to Israel’s
The doubts as to the
temporariness of the barrier relate to the ‘facts on the ground’ which the
barrier creates in the West Bank. The result is the
impossibility of the establishment of an independent, viable PalestinianState with contiguous territory in
the West Bank. Instead, the Palestinians would have to
content for creation of their State with the heavily overpopulated and
impoverished Gaza Strip as the tiny remains of original Palestine.
This of course is not the Two-State solution as envisioned by the ‘Road Map
The Israeli settlements in the OccupiedTerritories are internationally
regarded as illegal according to Article 49 of the ‘Geneva Civilians
which Israel is
a signatory and therefore bound by it. East-Jerusalem is internationally equally
regarded to be occupied territory, and Israel’s annexation of East-Jerusalem
and its subsequent declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1980
have not been recognized by other states except the United States of America.
Consequently, the route of the
fence in the West Bank surrounding the settlements and
thereby connecting them to the territory
of Israel proper is to be regarded
as illegal. Israel
is under the obligation to evacuate the settlements instead of consolidating
VII. Case studies throughout the West Bank
Abu Dis. Jerusalem area
The neighborhood of Abu Dis is
located on the eastern outskirt of Jerusalem,
roughly three kilometers from Jerusalem’s
It currently records a population of about 11, 670 inhabitants.
The construction of the barrier
in Abu Dis commenced in May 2003 and originally was formed by concrete blocks
which residents could still manage to squeeze through or climb with ladders.
The time required to reach Jerusalem
stepped on dramatically at this stage, from ten minutes to more than one hour.
The appalling wall erected in Abu Dis, Jerusalem. September 2004 (taken by Fabio Forgione).
Afterwards, the work has been
fast advancing over the past five months and a massive concrete-structure,
higher then 8 meters, is now nearly utterly surrounding the neighborhood,
blocking any direct way of communication to and from Jerusalem.
Actually, about the 80 per cent of the total planned project has been
accomplished, so far. No gate has been opened till now all along the concrete
The ‘apartheid wall’ also
separates approximately 35 families whose relatives are located in the other
side of the Wall, Jerusalem side.
Furthermore, ten of these families hold West Bank ID, even though their home is
on the west side of the barrier. At the time of the writing it is still unclear
if they will be granted JerusalemID,
or will have to relocate east side the barrier, in the West Bank.
As easily comprehensible, the
erection of the barrier has caused serious economic troubles to Abu Dis
residents. Jerusalem inhabitants
used to visit and shop in the village, where prices were normally cheaper than
in downtown Jerusalem. On this
regard, local shops were strongly depending, up to 60 per cent of their monthly
income, on clients and customers arriving from Jerusalem.
The construction of the barrier
has also irreversibly depreciated the land in Abu Dis by 60 per cent of its
original value. Actually, before the Wall was erected, renting house to
students had become an important source of income, determining a dramatic
increasing of the land’s price.
Nowadays, most of the shops are
perpetually closed down, and the unemployment has consequently reached its
highest pick since the establishment of the village. Finally, in accordance
with the local authority, the 90 per cent of the land (800 donums), confiscated
for the construction of the wall, resulted to be agricultural land, thus an
important income source.
The 8 meters high concrete Wall separating Abu Dis from
Jerusalem (taken by Fabio Forgione).
According to several media
reports, the wall erected in Abu Dis would have a symbolic significance as
well.Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) lives in the suburb, and the building set
aside for the future Palestinian parliament is situated right there.
Furthermore, in previous peace negotiations, Abu Dis was also proposed as the
centre of a possible negotiated capital for an independent PalestinianState.
Throughout the last two years,
Abu Dis has been hosting a lot of demonstrations against the ‘apartheid wall’.
The last protest, on 27th of August, was ‘headed’ by ArunGhandi, the grandson of
Mahatma Gandhi, along with 2000-3000 demonstrators.
“The Israeli’s ‘security
barrier’ which I have been seeing reminds me of the Bantustans
which the apartheid regime in South
Africa tried to create”, ArunGhandi shouted during the
2.Barta’aSharqiya Enclave. Jenin area.
The community of Barta’a Sharqiya
Enclave includes the villages of Barta’a Sharqiya (3,404 inhabitants), Dhaher
al Malih (205 residents), Um Rihan (353 residents), Khirbet Sheikh Saed (206 people),
KhirbetAbdulah Younis (133
Al Gharbiya (n.a.).
It has been completely enclosed,
with the only entries to West Bank represented by two
gates located at: Barta’a and Shaked.
Map supplied by UNRWA. August 2004
All the inhabitants of the
enclave, over the age of 16, are required to obtain a permit to reside in the
enclave as well as to travel outside in the rest of the West Bank
Barta’a Sharqiya has been
separated by Barta’a Gharbiya, located on the Israeli side of the ‘Green Line,
since 1948 occupation. The two villages used to have strong social, economic,
familiar links with about 40 per cent of Palestinian people living on the
eastern side of the village in the West Bank hold Israeli Identity Card but
prevented to get the other side of the ‘Green Line’ because of the barrier.
Due to the construction of a new
settle road nearby the enclave, residents of KhirbetMunther Al Gharbiya, situated in the southern part of the
enclave, are obligated to use a tunnel to have access to the rest of the
enclave. Inhabitants of Dhaher al Malih village are unable to enter Barta’a
because they are not permitted to travel on the settler road. They thus live in
an enclave within an enclave!
Furthermore, women originally
from Dhaher al Malih village who have married into families living in
communities on the other side of the barrier are unable to visit their families
in their native village due to the impossibility to be granted permission. All
petitions submitted to the IDF Civil Administration have been so far rejected.
The enclave’s only two gates,
Barta’a and Shaked, are officially open from to 22 pm daily, with emergency access
during the night. Actually, extensive delays are usually reported at both
gates, especially Barta’a. Moreover, Palestinians keep complaining of cruel and
inhumane treatment perpetrated by some Israeli IDF officials. Anyhow, after the
introduction of some female soldiers at the gate, the situation has been
reportedly improved. Any person who needs to enter the enclave, also just once,
must apply for getting permission.
3.Jayyous. Qalqiliya area
The area around Qalqiliya
governorate represents one of the most agriculturally productive in West
Bank. As easily understandable, the consequences of the
construction of the wall have negatively impacted the region and the freedom of
movement of its inhabitants.
Jayyous, small village hosting
about 3,100 people, is well known for its intensively irrigated agriculture
which produced vegetables and citrus fruit, together with apricots, figs,
mangoes and almonds. Although Jayyous lies on the West Bank
side of the wall, four thousand trees were uprooted for the construction of the
barrier, and 125 acres of land confiscated.
Fences erected near Jayyous, Qalqiliya area (taken by
The barrier stretches 6
kilometers into the West Bank, secluding some 9,000 dunums, standing for between 75 to 90 per cent of its
fertile land. The barrier has also cut any direct way of communication between
Jayyous and Qalqiliya, the area’s main centre, with
villagers now obligated to pass through Azun or Funduq to reach Qalqiliya.
Daily access to the land has
become a snarl of arbitrary restrictions and regulations set up by the Israeli
Army. There are two gates, in the north and south, currently utterly patrolled
and controlled by Israeli soldiers. Before the construction of the barrier,
there were ten dirt roads completely open and accessible to the villagers all
The situation has completely
changed. The southern gate has been indeed closed indefinitely on 23rd
of November 2003 and the Abu Shareb Bedouin family is
totally isolated behind the gate without having any other way of reaching the
village. As a consequence, the family entirely depends on the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) for gaining access to their village.
As far as the northern gate is
concerned, the IDF has recently issued a new timetable. According to this, the
gate has been scheduled to be open three times each day: ; ; .
Anyhow, in accordance to several reports and testimonies gathered by UNRWA (United
Nations Relief & Work Agency) from the villagers, the gate is sometimes
opened before the scheduled hour in order to make the villagers unable to pass
through, missing their chance of crossing.
The ‘permit regime’ is however
extremely strict. It has been estimated that only 20 per cent of the population
living in Jayyous obtained a regular permission for crossing the barrier. On
this context, only the land–owner and his closest relatives are allowed to get
the land beyond the gate. From July 2003, with the definitive installation of
the two gates, a number of farmers have set up tents and temporary shelters on
the land located behind the barrier for fear that they would be unable to
access their land and greenhouses, particularly during the olive harvest’s
Farmers from Jayyous waiting for the opening of the
northern gate. October 2004 (taken by Fabio Forgione).
Nearly 120 greenhouses mainly
belonging to Jayyous have been isolated due to the closure imposed after the
installation of the barrier.Totally,
the farming land behind the barrier produced an estimated 9 million kilograms
of fruit and 7 million kilograms of vegetables every year principally going to
the city markets of Nablus, Tulkarm
and the Qalqiliya. Nowadays, with the erection of the barrier, the direct
access to Nablus, Tulkarm and
Qalqiliya has been obstructed.
Additionally, with the major aim
of preventing cultivation and the exportation of agricultural products, it has
been reported that the importation of fertilizer and pesticides as well as the
import of diesel for the generators and pumps have been dramatically restricted
by Israeli authorities.
As a direct result of this
depressed economic situation, suppliers are also refusing to grant credits as
they used to do in the past. Consequently, most of the poorer farmers have not
applied pesticides this growing season.
The ‘Apartheid Wall’ stretches
its route largely on the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory of the West
Bank by means of seizure of privately owned Palestinian lands,
causing great humanitarian harm to the Palestinian residents of the area
directly and indirectly subjected to construction of the barrier. The barrier
furthermore runs in and around parts of East-Jerusalem, consolidating Israel’s
annexation of the city.
Since the establishment of the
‘separation barrier’, if, on the one hand,Israeli security has been slightly increased and Israelis feel safer and
return to ‘normal’ life again, Palestinians of the West Bank, on the other
hand, have been experiencing a life as much harder as before. Israel
is indeed severely infringing their rights, which effectively increases
Palestinian frustration, anger and despair.
In addition, serious doubts have
to be raised regarding the alleged temporary nature of the barrier. The
Government of Israel continues to state that the construction of the Wall is
just a temporary measure. However, the extent, nature and cost of the Wall’s
construction and, in particular, its location inside the West Bank
and east of the ‘Green Line’ suggest to Palestinians that the project has more
has been undergoing a severe economic crisis, it is questionable whether a
country would spend a total of 7 Billion NIS or 1.5-2 Billion US dollars on a
temporary security measure (each kilometer of the wall costing an estimated 2-3
Finally, the awful Wall being
built throughout the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory in general, and those
parts of the barrier which enclose some Israeli settlements, grabbing
Palestinian land, is in stark contrast to Israel’s
claim that the barrier is not political.
The Israeli Government is strongly
demanded to immediately refrain from continuing the construction of the
‘separation barrier’ inside the PalestinianTerritories, remarkably infringing
the Palestinians’ right of freedom of movement.
Finally the Palestinian Authority
leadership is firmly demanded to take on all the responsibilities in preventing
suicide bombers to perpetrate attacks inside Israel
territory, demonstrating its capabilities in running a future, viable and
 Beit Sourik Village Council v. (1) The Government of Israel,(2)Commanderof the IDF Forcesin the West
Bank, HCJ 2056/04, para. 30, see also II
Wall’s First Phase: From Jenin to Tulkarm to Qalqiliya. In: Stop
the Wall in Palestine. The
Palestinian Environmental NGO’s Network (PENGON), Jerusalem,
from B’tselem Press Release, 24 Sept. 2004.
all it seems. Preventing Palestinians Access to their Lands West of the
Separation Barrier in the Tulkarm Qalqiliya Area.ShlomiSuissa, B’Tselem report
June 2004. B’tselem – The IsraeliInformationCenter
for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
inability to access land can lead to its confiscation by Israel.
The IDF has practiced land confiscation under various pretenses, one being that
land which remains ‘uncultivated’ for three years is subject to seizure. Land
Grab. Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank,YeheskielLein. B’tselem, May 2002
Immediately after the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Military Law No.92
was passed, which prohibited all water development, drilling, and
infrastructure building in the West Bank unless a permit was obtained from the
military ‘water officer’- a policy which has effectively cut short the
Palestinian water usage, confining them to the old water system and wells
drilled in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Israel
receives 79% of the water exploited from the Western Aquifer, Palestinians
receive 21%. Of the water exploited from the Jordan
uses 100%. In: Thirsty for a Solution. Position Paper. B’tselem, July 2000
from: Efficiency of Irrigated Agriculture in the West Bank.
Jad Isaac, Faten Al-Juneidi, WalidSabbah, Moh’d Abu Amriyeh. Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem.
the Wall in Palestine.
Facts, Testimonies and Call to Action. The Palestinian Environmental NGO’s
Network (PENGON) Jerusalem, June
 See for
example the correlation of barrier, settlements and water in the case of the TalMenashe settlement bloc north
of Tulkarm. Also: Should 250 cave dwellers interfere with the fence?NirHasson, in: Ha’aretz, 13 Sept.
 A B’tselem report estimates that 1,7% of the West Bank
Territory is built up with settlements, while 41,9% of the West Bank Territory
is under control of ‘municipal boundaries’ and ‘regional councils’. Land
Grab,B’tselem, May 2002
250 cave dwellers interfere with the fence? NirHasson, in: Ha’aretz, 13 Sept. 2004
Key settlement blocs to stay inside fence. Aluf
Benn, in Haaretz, 09 Sept. 2004
High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Civilian Convention confirmed in 2001
that the Convention is applicable to the OccupiedTerritories.
also: “The map of the fence…is the same map I’ve seen during every visit of Arik with us since 1978. He said to me that he is thinking
of it since 1973”. (Ron Nachman, Mayor of Ariel,
quoted in the article “And in Their Heart is a Wall”, YediothAhronot, “7 Days”, 23 May 2003). Taken from: www.gader.org
by Middle East Quartet. Available on:
Relative to the treatment of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Aug. 12,
1949, U.N. Treaty Series, vol. 75, p. 287.
 The UN
has expressed the view regarding the status of Jerusalem
in several resolutions, for example No. 672, U.N. Document S/INF/46 (1991). The
US Government changed its view regarding the status of Jerusalem
in 1993, declaring ‘United Jerusalem’
to be the capital of Israel.Gore reaffirms U.S.
Policy declaring united Jerusalem
as capital of Israel,
PR Newswire, 18 March 1994.
Reference: The P.L.O. – Israeli Interim Arrangements and the Geneva
Civilians Convention, John Quigley, in: Human Rights, Self-Determination
and Political Change in the Occupied PalestinianTerritories. Ed.
Stephen Bowen, International Studies in Human Rights, MartinusNijhoff Publishers, Kluwer
Law International, The Hague 1997
The West Bank barrier. Emergency appeal. Abu Dis, East
Jerusalem, March 2004.
begins walling off Jerusalem, West Bank. Barrier against bomber blocks
Palestinians from home, jobs. Middle East News. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3939376/
Post, 29th August, 2004.
The West Bank barrier. Emergency appeal. Profile:
Barta’a Sharqiya Enclave. August 2004.
The West Bank barrier. Emergency appeal. Profile:
Family, Jayyous Farmers Caged by the Wall. September 2004.
The West Bank barrier. Emergency appeal. Profile:
Wall’s First Phase: From Jenin to Tulkarm to Qalqiliya. In: Stop
the Wall in Palestine. The
Palestinian Environmental NGO’s Network (PENGON).
Impact of Israel’s Separation Barrier on Affected West Bank Communities.
Press Release available on: www.un.org/News/dh/mideast/reportE_PR.pdf