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15 years after ICJ declared Separation Wall illegal, West Bank barrier continues to destroy Palestinian lives

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Tuesday July 9th marked the fifteenth anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision to declare the Israeli separation wall in occupied Palestinian territory as illegal under international law.

Israel began construction of the separation wall, known by many as the Israeli “Apartheid Wall”, in 2002 in the middle of the Second Intifada. Israeli officials said the wall was a necessary “security precaution against terrorism” from Palestinian attackers coming from the West Bank.

But with the construction of the wall, came unprecedented demolitions of Palestinians homes along the planned route, massive land confiscations, and the division of dozens of Palestinian communities along the Green Line.

In 2004 the ICJ issued a non-binding advisory opinion that Israel should immediately stop construction on the wall, and should pay reparations for any damage caused.

While the court recognized that Israel was facing acts of violence against its civilians, it said that the Israeli government was violating its responsibilities under international law as the occupying power of the Palestinian territory.

After one year of inaction by Israeli authorities following the ICJ decision, Palestinian activists launched the now infamous Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, known as the BDS Call, on July 9, 2005.

In an interview with the Guardian last year, Ingrid Jaradat, one of the founding members of BDS, said “If there had been action on the part of the international community to implement the ICJ ruling, there wouldn’t have been a BDS call.”

Fifteen years on, despite the court’s ruling and widespread international criticism of the wall, and it continues to be built across the West Bank, tearing communities apart and separating Palestinians from their land.

The immeasurable impact of the wall

In the years since the construction of the wall, which stands at 26ft at its highest points — more than double the height of the Berlin Wall — Palestinians in the West Bank have relentlessly protested against its construction, arguing that it seeks to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security.

Initially presented by Israeli authorities as a temporary security measure to run along the route of the Green Line, the wall has substantially deviated eastward, weaving through Palestinian towns and villages along the West Bank border with Israel.

The route of the wall, including planned sections, sections under construction, and those already built, spans 712 kilometers — more than twice the length of the Green Line, which is 320 kilometers long.

According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, 85% of the barrier runs inside West Bank territory, and has paved the way for the Israeli takeover of 10% of the West Bank.

“If construction is completed along the entire planned route, 52,667.7 hectares of land – an area that is equal to 9.4% of the West Bank and includes the territories that Israel annexed to the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem – will be cut off from the West Bank,” the group said.

When the wall was built, B’Tselem said, it cut off around 150 Palestinian families from their land, and isolated some 11,000 Palestinians living in 32 communities caught in seam zones between the wall and the Green Line. It has completely sealed Palestinians in East Jerusalem from their surrounding communities in the West Bank, and vice versa.

Severely restricting the movement of millions of West Bank Palestinians, the wall has further entrenched Israel’s permit regime, forcing any Palestinian who wants to cross into Jerusalem or Israel for work, medical reasons, or even visiting family on the other side of the wall to apply for an Israeli permit first — the large portion of which are denied for “security reasons.”

B’Tselem:

The construction of the barrier within the West Bank has violated multiple human rights of the Palestinians who live on either side of it. Among other things, it curtails their freedom of movement, consequently impinging upon their rights to work, education, medical care, family life, earning a living and an adequate standard of living. The Palestinians’ collective right to self-determination is also violated, as the winding route of the barrier cuts into Palestinian space and breaks up the population living there.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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5 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on July 10, 2019, 7:17 pm

    The Zionists practise the classic tactic of divide et impera. Already they have divided the Palestinians into four groups at least: those illegally kept out of Palestine by the criminal Zionist entity, those who are (second-class) citizens of the Zionist entity, those (without Zionist citizenship) in occupied al-Quds, and those in the rest of Palestine. The Zionists play one group against another, thereby creating dissent and strife that weaken the righteous movement for Palestinian national liberation from Zionist settler-colonial occupation.

    We anti-Zionists must build a united front. We must also fan up dissent and strife within the Zionist camp.

  2. Jackdaw on July 11, 2019, 1:58 am

    The separation barrier, partially a wall and mostly a fence, was built to stop murderous terrorist attacks launched at innocent Israeli citizens. The iconic separation wall in Bethlehem was specifically erected to prevent Arabs from sniping down on the neighboring Jewish settlement of Gilo.

    Guess what, Yumna. The separation barrier has ended human bomb terrorist attacks on Israel civilians and ended the sniper fire on Gilo.
    http://jcpa.org/article/bethlehem-after-oslo-terror-spiked-in-israels-absence/

    So yeah, maybe Arab violence has a little to do with the construction of the separation barrier?

    And most definitely, the separation barrier has ended terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians and probably made life more peaceful for the Arabs as well.

    BTW, the ICJ ruled that ‘some sections’ of the barrier were illegal.
    BTW, the ICJ is a paper tiger that whose power and influence are in steady decline.

    • Talkback on July 11, 2019, 11:11 am

      Jackdaw: “The separation barrier, partially a wall and mostly a fence, was built to stop murderous terrorist attacks launched at innocent Israeli citizens. The iconic separation wall in Bethlehem was specifically erected to prevent Arabs from sniping down on the neighboring Jewish settlement of Gilo.”

      Indeed. The wall was illegaly built on Palestinian territory, has to be dismantled and Palestinians compensated for destroying their lands according to the ICJ. And the illegal settlements have to be dismantled according to Security Council resolution 465 (1980)
      https://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/5AA254A1C8F8B1CB852560E50075D7D5

      Jackdaw: “Guess what, Yumna. The separation barrier has ended human bomb terrorist attacks on Israel civilians and ended the sniper fire on Gilo.”

      Guess what Jackdaw. The terrorist attacks had already stopped when the illegal wall was completed only 50% and the Shin Bet came to conclusion that this happened, because Palestinians simply stopped them. Btw. the wall has still many holes.

      Jackdaw: “So yeah, maybe Arab violence has a little to do with the construction of the separation barrier?”

      Ore maybe Israel’s intention to illegally annex more Palestinian territory and continue to illegaly bult settlements in their territory?

      Jackdaw: “And most definitely, the separation barrier has ended terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians …”

      Nope. It didn’t end anything. Just ask how many Palestinians illegally enter Israel on a daily basis to find work.

      Nathan: “… and probably made life more peaceful for the Arabs as well.”

      Really? Did Jewish violence whether by settlers or soldiers has ended, too, because of the wall? Don’t think so.

      Nathan: “BTW, the ICJ ruled that ‘some sections’ of the barrier were illegal.
      BTW, the ICJ is a paper tiger that whose power and influence are in steady decline.”

      Maybe because of rogue states like the US and Israel who need to erode international law. But the ICJ still is the only institution that interprets international law for the UN. That is the reason why despite of the attempts of these rouge states the international community hasn’t changed their view about the illegality of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, the illegality of its settlements and segments of its wall in Palestinian territory.

      Btw. You are arguing like someone who supports guns for gangsters to protect their crime.

    • bcg on July 11, 2019, 12:00 pm

      @Jackdaw: Israeli general Yair Golan had some interesting comments to make about the wall:

      “Yair Golan is quite well known in Israel. He’s a very clear member of the Israeli military elite. He is respected and extremely high ranking…. I had the opportunity actually to listen to him when he gave the talk in the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, and he spoke about his job as the head of the military forces in the West Bank, and he said very frankly that they were building the wall of separation in the West Bank and that the instructions that the military received from the government were not to build the wall out of security consideration, because he said we could provide security by cheaper and better and more efficient means than the wall, but the wall was there to separate the populations….The wall was built in order to prevent Israeli and Palestinians from meeting each other, from becoming friends, from falling in love and getting married, from conducting business with each other. Those were his words. And everyone in the room when he said that were quite astounded. Not by the fact, because I think nobody, everyone in the audience was aware of this reality, but the fact that he acknowledged it, by the fact that he was so honest.”

      Elsewhere Golan has said that the suicide bombings were prevented by Israeli intelligence, not a physical separation barrier (which, as everyone knows, is actually pretty porous)

      https://therealnews.com/stories/shever0506israel

  3. LiberatePalestine on July 11, 2019, 2:17 pm

    They’re building a wall,
    A wall between friends,
    A wall that justifies
    Any means for their ends—
    A wall between Semites
    Rich and poor,
    Brothers and sisters
    From not so long before.
    Many feet thick
    And twenty feet high;
    Noöne can look through it
    And into the eye
    Of a person you might now,
    To whom you might confide—
    Now just a stranger
    On the other side…

    ——David Rovics, «They’re Building a Wall»

    Read the rest here, and listen to the song:

    http://www.davidrovics.com/songbook/theyre-building-a-wall-2/

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