Israel to build security fence in the heart of the West Bank

Yitma Junction, area of land confiscated for security fence. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Yitma Junction, area of land confiscated for security fence. (Photo: Allison Deger)

It’s barely 100 meters, but a fence Israel plans to build through four villages in the heart of the iconic hills of the West Bank shows how deep the occupation reaches into Palestinian life.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) ordered the construction of a separation fence in the north central West Bank on agricultural land belonging to four Palestinian villages. The “security fence,” or “security wall,” from the Hebrew and Arabic appropriation orders respectively, will run east-west along highway 5, near Tapuach Junction, a checkpoint between Ramallah and Nablus.

This fence is not an extension of the famous separation barrier. Rather it will be a free-floating chain linked plank in the heart of the West Bank. A miniature version of the wall, it separates nothing and can easily be bypassed on foot. It only stretches 3.8 dunums in length, well under one kilometer. Still this fence is part of a patchwork of barriers in the Nablus district that trace the highway system.

The fence is slated for construction on farms lands belonging to the hillside localities of Beita, Osrain, Qabalan and Yitma. Together the four villages form a square with two to the north and two to the south of an Israeli highway. The planned path of the fence lines the bisecting highway.

Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinians at Yitma Junction, 18 November 2013. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinians at Yitma Junction, 18 November 2013. (Photo: Allison Deger)

“Based on my jurisdiction as a leader of the Israeli Defense Forces in this district,” states the November 3rd appropriation order I obtained, signed by Nitzan Alon, the Israeli army commander of the West Bank. “I think it is necessary for military purposes and based on the special security conditions exiting in the area, and this city, to take steps to prevent terrorist operations.” The document goes on to state the Palestinian landowners have seven days to file an objection.

“There have been several updates covering attacks occurring at Tapuach Junction,” said the IDF in response to the construction of the fence. An army spokesperson pointed to one Israeli killed and one stabbed at the intersection, however, they were not able to provide any data regarding security threats specific to the outlined path of the fence.

“It’s not ‘the separation fence,’ it’s ‘a separation fence,’ said Ray Dolphin, barrier specialist with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Dolphin explained this fence is replacing a previous divider. Yet the Israeli army was unable to explain why that one was dismantled. Dolphin said there is other fencing along this road and these blockages are common in the Nablus region, layering additional burdens to Palestinian movement. Still the new fence does not cut access to the framing highway network.

Then earlier this week on Monday around 20 Israeli border police arrived at Yitma Junction to give landowners a field tour of the confiscation area. But the walk through never happened. Instead 40 Palestinians met the army with a demonstration. “We will stay here all day,” said one of the middle-aged landowners. Yet within a half-an hour the Palestinian dispersed back inside of their villages.

yitma.03

The thick black line marks the path of the new security fence (Map: IDF)

The row over the fence zone dates to 2010 when farmers were initially prevented from reaching their orchards. That same year a confiscation order was delivered to the village councils, leading to a lengthy court battle. At the beginning of this year Israeli judges refused to overturn the appropriation edict.

In response the Palestinian villagers have selected to appeal through legal channels. There are no weekly Friday protests like the ones made famous in Bil’in and Nabi Saleh. Instead the village councils work with lawyers from the Palestinian Authority who have yet to garner any return of the territorial loss.

Moreover in September 2013 alone, Yitma received demolition orders for 21 houses. “They [the IDF] said that these homes are outside of Yitma villages on Israeli land,” said Ahmad Snobar, a 27 year-old advertising manager and son of the president of Yitma Village Council. “We have visits from the army every week from two to five o’clock in the morning when everyone sleeps,” Snobar continued.

Yitma and the other villages losing land for the security fence are in core of the West Bank’s iconic rocky hill region. Yitma is home to only 6,000 Palestinians and the total population for all of the villages under the confiscation order is barley 40,000. In typical housing patterns, the Palestinian villages are on the lowlands and small settlements are perched on nearly every visible swath of highland. Standing on the soon to be confiscated land, in every direction there are settlements towering over Palestinian villages. It’s no surprise then that Nablus district has the highest rate of settler violence, a fact underscored by Snobar departing from our interview to rush to an adjacent village where settlers had chopped down Palestinian olive trees.

Unlike the path of the separation barrier which follows the Green Line in places before stretching deep into the West Bank, this fence has absolutely no connection to Israel’s internationally recognized border. After 2003 when the path of the wall was first announced, the Israeli government augmented the route three times and adjustments were made after construction through court orders.

“The High Court in all cases has reduced the route of the wall,” said Dolphin. In cases like Bil’in where the path of the wall was constructed outside of the published route, the court ruled the wall must coincide with the plans outlined by the Ministry of Defense. But this little Nablus area fence is not subject to the same rigor as the separation barrier. The army can order its seizure at will.

So while Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meeting to discuss a negotiated partition, in the West Bank backlands this small fence marks no letting up from Israel on usurping even seemingly insignificant tracts of land. In recent weeks the Israeli government has announced they hope to secure a borderline along the path of the official separation wall. In that case, this fence would be well inside the future Palestinian state. Moreover, earlier this month Israeli officials announced the expansion of the separation wall along the border with Jordan. Such a barrier would also fall beyond Israel’s stated territorial scope. Yet this little fence, attached to nothing that can reasonably be bypassed on foot within minutes, will be built under military order in center of small farms in the West Bank.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Occupation, On the ground reports, One state/Two states | Tagged

{ 34 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. pabelmont says:

    Sounds disgusting. Pure evil, undisguised. Discrimination and ill-treatment of people for the sake of discrimination and ill-treatment, and nothing more.

    The gloves are off. Israel is openly flouting the good opinion of “the world”. When is “the world” going to respond?

    This (as described above) makes no pretence to be done for the safety or security of anybody, nor yet for military necessity. Purely and blatantly illegal. Tell it to your rabbi if you have one. this must be denounced, and so must the rest.

    • just says:

      well said.

      I am still choking on disgust and rage.

    • American says:

      pabelmont says:
      November 21, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Sounds disgusting. Pure evil, undisguised. Discrimination and ill-treatment of people for the sake of discrimination and ill-treatment, and nothing more.>>>>>

      Yep, it’ s glaringly obvious. The ‘security’ excuses for their evil pleasures have become so pathetic.

    • so neti thinks israels existence is threatened. actually, its the civilized world’s existence that’s threatened, by israel!
      the nations of the world should build a security fence around israel to protect it from israel, just like the romans build hadrians wall to keep out those marauding scotsmen. problem is what are the borders of everysecond expanding greater israel?
      by the way, about scotland, they have a very philosophical brotherhood with palestine: they’ve both suffered under the occupation of oppressors and i have it on very very good word that the “free scotland” movement is just about to explode on the world scene.
      so, without scotlands north sea oil that englands been stealing all these years, it’ll be goodbye england!
      Right on, Scotland!

  2. amigo says:

    Ray Dolphin wrote a book in 2006 titled “The West Bank Wall”, (The unmaking of Palestine.)

    Ironically he dedicated the book to “All those affected by the wall and may they hold on to their land and livelihoods.”

    This book is a mine of valuable information.Published by Pluto Press.

    ISBN O -7453-2433-9

  3. ritzl says:

    WWASD?

    (What Would Ari Shavit Do?)

  4. seafoid says:

    I don’t think either “security” or “fence” are appropriate words.
    colonization needs language to do some of its dirty work. How about “Wall of hatred and paranoia” instead ?

    • just says:

      Sounds exactly correct to me. It’s a Wall of Thieves and Ethnic Cleansing, too.

      (btw– why is it that most everything that Israelis build is so butt ugly? All of the old structures that they built upon were so very beautiful and graceful– they erased history and made everything appear so… ugly. No forethought/urban planning……..or architecture to speak of.)

      • seafoid says:

        War is put above everything else in Israeli society

        link to amazon.com

        “It demonstrates how, over the last century, planning and architecture have been transformed from everyday professional practices into strategic weapons in the service of the state, which has sought to secure national and geopolitical objectives through the organization of space and in the redistribution of its population. In fact, as the book shows, Israeli architecture has consistently provided the concrete means for the pursuit of the Zionist project of building a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. As such, it is the first study to supplement the more familiar political, military and historical analysis of the Israel-Palestine conflict with a detailed description of the physical environments in which it is played out.

        The banning of the first edition of this book by its original publisher was proof, if any were needed, that architecture in Israel, indeed architecture anywhere, can no longer be considered a politically naive activity: the politics of Israeli architecture is the politics of any architecture.”

      • bintbiba says:

        True, true, so true, Just.
        The settlements , perched on the hillsides and hilltops, parade their hideousness and total lack of aesthetic sense and respect for the heritage of the culture that is OF and FROM THE LAND!! They are devoid of soul and grace.
        I can say no more. It breaks my heart…..the same as it breaks my heart to see them uprooting and destroying the beautiful, ages – old olive trees! Their G– teaches them this obscenity? How can that be.

        • seafoid says:

          They hate the land. They just want the resources and to think that their being there means that history has ended.
          It’s a wasteful indoctrinated consumer society.
          Moses never wanted that.

    • Chu says:

      It’s not really a fence – more of a disguise for another land grab.

  5. By itself this stretch of fence seems to make no sense. But it has to be viewed as a small piece of a long-term strategy of harassing the Palestinians, making their lives so difficult that more and more of them get out, driving them off the land and concentrating them in mostly urban isolated ghettoes. My guess is that after local residents have learned to tolerate this stretch of fence it will be extended bit by bit, increasingly cutting off the areas on the two sides.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “By itself this stretch of fence seems to make no sense.”

      Not as a “security” matter, no. Like 99.9999999999% of the times the israelis invoke the “security” excuse, it’s a lie to cover the real purpose, which you’ve identified: “harassing the Palestinians, making their lives so difficult that more and more of them get out, driving them off the land and concentrating them in mostly urban isolated ghettoes.” I think these iof criminal terrorists in uniform also get off on inflicting pain on Palestinians, so they do it because they like doing it.

      • Some enjoy it, but that is an effect rather than a cause. For many others it’s a boring routine. A few even feel bad about what they are doing but do it just the same (the “shoot and cry” syndrome). But they are all programmed to continue doing what Zionist ideology requires. They think they “have to” do these things because otherwise the Palestinians will eventually overwhelm the “Jewish state” — a scenario they are taught to fear as the “demographic threat.”

  6. eljay says:

    >> My guess is that after local residents have learned to tolerate this stretch of fence …

    If they don’t learn to tolerate it, the supremacist “Jewish State” will be forced – forced, I say! – to surround it with a no-man’s land and to install guard towers manned by shoot-to-kill Occupation goons. Must protect the stolen “homeland”!

    After that will come the victimhood wailing: “Why do the Arabs hate us so much?! Anti-Semites! Iran! The Mufti! Wiped off the map and pushed into the sea! Remember the Holocaust!™” :-(

  7. Daniel Rich says:

    … but then we’ll need a road to get to that fence. To safeguard the road we’ll need, say, oh, a few hundred yards on either side of the tarmac to protect it from savages who claim they used the land to grow olives on [yeah, right. It was empty when we got there], and then a few more dunams to ensure our crews can maneuver back and forth without being killed by flying rocks, until we’ve reached the first hill, where we’ll built a settlement for the tarmac crews to live in/on and then we’ll need a perimeter of a mile or so, again, as a safety measure so we’re not killed by flying rocks, until we’ve reached the 2nd hill from which we can see the river Jordan. A long way to go, but we’ll get there. All alone if we have to…

  8. W.Jones says:

    Reading these stories is like watching a cancer patient slowly wither away over 20 years, in this case the patient being the Palestinians.

    • Walid says:

      “Reading these stories is like watching a cancer patient slowly wither away …”

      It’s down to the the bare skin and bones remaining. The only Arab country that was still talking about Palestinians was Syria and now it can’t even talk about itself anymore. Future prospects of anything good happening to the Palestinians are nil. The Iran deal will surely contain a side agreement for Iran to distance itself from the Palestinians.

      Meanwhile, the negotiations are ongoing as if nothing is happening and Israel goes on stealing more land.

      • just says:

        “Future prospects of anything good happening to the Palestinians are nil. THe Iran deal will surely contain a side agreement for Iran to distance itself from the Palestinians.”

        Walid, I do not believe that. If I choose to throw in with your worse than grim prediction and prognosis, then all hope for justice and striving for that is finished. I’m not giving up… not now, not ever. If we take away hope for change, all humanity should just perish because they have no imagination nor goodness left.

        I hope that you are just being “grumpy” and provocative, and that you are not a total pessimist. We need people like you in the “fight”.

        • seafoid says:

          I already feel sorry for the Zionists.

        • ditto what just said. onward!

        • Walid says:

          I am grumpy, Just, hard not to be after losing 10 games in a row and in the case of the Palestinians, it’s a downward spiral since 60 years. A bit of sunshine came through with Mohammed Assaf’s success. Hope more will happen. I’m mostly disappointed by the Arabs.

        • Walid says:

          “I already feel sorry for the Zionists.”

          I don’t, seafoid, but when they do go down eventually, it will have been by their own hand. They’re on a self-destruct track, as you often point out.

        • just says:

          I do empathize with those that are stricken, disappointed, disillusioned and just plain weary.

          I think that lots of folks are weary, I get that.

          I also believe that the same weariness is a result of an effort that is finally bearing fruit. It is, in a very real sense, the effects of a “post- adrenaline rush”. So much heartache and misery followed on by bursts of hope and perhaps a realization of that hope becoming reality. There are none so weary nor wary as those that have been oppressed, hurt, incarcerated, murdered, and disappeared.

          Take care of yourself, friend.

          We need to stand strong. I’ve leaned on you with respect and thanks, you can lean on me, if you will allow me the honor.

        • RobertB says:

          In the Real Tally of Violence, Palestinians Have it Much Worse

          By Amira Hass
          November 22, 2013

          “There is no Palestinian whose score with the State of Israel is settled – whether he lives in forced exile or whether he lives within the borders of Israel, or in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. There is no Palestinian without a personal and familial history of injustice that was caused by, and is still caused by Israel. Just because the Israeli media does not report on all the injustices Israel causes day in and day out – even if only because they so numerous – does not mean they go away and neither does the anger they cause.”

          Click on link below…for the rest of the story:

          link to informationclearinghouse.info

  9. seafoid says:

    The signpost is pure colonialism.

    Middle of the West Bank, nowhere near Israel.
    3 languages.

    Hebrew, the language of the occupier, on top
    Arabic second
    English third

    All names in Arabic are the Israeli versions.

    So for example signs pointing to Jerusalem call the city “Yerushaliyim”. No Palestinian calls Al Quds “Yerushaliyim”.

    May God have mercy on Zionism.

  10. chris o says:

    Speaking of unfair division of property, I thought the Daily Show had a pretty extreme statement on the Palestinian-Jewish conflict via slices of pizza. It’s all about how NY pizza is magic and they show many scenes including a Jew and an Arab arguing until they are served the magic pizza. The Arab gets the tiniest slice you have ever seen and the Jew gets a giant piece. I was confused until I realized the joke. It was a holy shit moment!!! And priceless. There may be ads, the whole thing is funny but go to the 7:00 minute mark for the Arab-Jew scene.
    link to thedailyshow.com

    • Egbert says:

      The UK version is cut off – truncated abruptly – at about 1 minute, just after someone says something like “your pizza is inedible”. It ends with a a frame or two showing a male dressed in black facing right, talking loudly to someone. That someone never appears. Let me guess – this would be where the Jewish / Arab argument starts. So in the UK, even the Palestinian tiniest slice ever is stolen.