Middle East Issues
- Israel's Security Wall / Apartheid Wall FAQ
The wall is
a long chain of land-grabbing fences, walls and barriers. It's
fine with me if Israel builds a big wall -- if it's on their own
property. But this wall juts deep into the West Bank, and that's
not right by any standard. Perhaps the Palestinians should build
their own wall -- along the Green Line recognized borders -- to
keep out the invading Israeli army and illegal Israeli settlers!
2004 The Israeli Security
Wall at Abu Dis
Jan 21, 2004 Israeli Wall Construction
Oct 24, 2003 The UN takes on
The Wall (Part 3)
Oct 16, 2003 Americans Killed
/ The UN takes on The Wall (Part 2)
Oct 11, 2003 The UN takes on
Apr 04, 2003 The Wall
Jan 03, 2003 Abu Dis Wall
Better Definition from the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department:
Israels Security Wall: Bad Fences Make Bad
formula for the parameters of unilateral solution are: To
maximize the number of Jews; minimize the number of Palestinians;
not to withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem.
Ehud Olmert, Israels Deputy Prime Minister
wrong with Israels security wall?
The wall is
not being built on Israels border but rather well within
Occupied Palestinian Territory, thereby de facto annexing Palestinian
land and ensuring that Israels colonies remain. It is estimated
that approximately 43% of the Occupied West Bank (containing approximately
94% of the illegal Israeli settlers) will be de facto annexed
the wall is being built in such a way as to divide Palestinian
population centers from their adjacent agricultural land and water
resources. The strategy is to annex as much Palestinian land as
possible while militarily encaging as many Palestinians as possible,
all in an attempt to continue Israels colonization and occupation
of Palestinian land. At the same time, Israel will effectively
isolate Palestinian population centers from one another, and restrict
not only freedom of movement of individuals but also of goods
and services, thereby worsening an already crippled Palestinian
It is estimated
that when the wall is complete, approximately 380,000 Palestinians
will be trapped between the wall and Israels 1967 pre-occupation
border (the Green Line), 160,000 of whom will be trapped
in double-walled ghettos or enclaves.
For a map
of Israels security wall as of December 2003,
2. Is it
a wall or a fence?
The wall takes
many forms. In some areas (notably around the Palestinian town
of Qalqilya) the wall is an eight-meter high wall of solid concrete
(twice the height of the Berlin Wall) with armed watch towers
positioned every 200 meters. In other areas, the wall is a barrier
comprised of trenches (up to four meters deep), electrified fences,
razor wire and military roads. There is also a 30-100 meter wide
buffer zone east of the wall with electric fences,
trenches, sensors and military patrol roads.
is called a wall, barrier or fence
is irrelevant because the effect is the same: Israeli de facto
confiscation of Palestinian agricultural land, forced impoverishment
of Palestinian communities and a coercion of Palestinians to abandon
the wall necessary for Israels security?
No. The wall
is not protecting Israeli citizens inside Israel; it is instead
protecting Israels occupation, illegal colonies and ongoing
colonization of Palestinian land. If Israel were truly interested
in its security it would (i) abide by international law and withdraw
completely from the territories it occupied in 1967 and/or (2)
build the wall on its 1967 pre-occupation border, rather than
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Green Line is only
320 km in length, whereas the wall is projected to be 752-786
km, more than twice the length of the Green Line. The wall, designed
to incorporate Israels colonies into Israel, will therefore
require more security measures and provide more opportunity for
breaching the wall.
long used the façade of security for the continued
colonization of Palestinian land, and the notion of a security
wall neatly fits into Israels long-term goal of annexing
as much Palestinian land as possible with as few Palestinians
is Israel really trying to do by building the wall?
attempting to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories
by establishing militarily-enforced Palestinian ghettos corresponding
to the Palestinian population centers, while continuing its illegal
colonization policy. It is estimated that the wall, when complete,
will ensure that approximately 94% of the Israeli settler population
remains in the Occupied West Bank, with approximately 60% of the
colonies also remaining. At the same time, the wall will ensure
that Palestinians are denied the ability to move, while Israeli
settlers will be able to freely travel throughout the Occupied
ultimate goal is to make life so difficult for Palestinians
through the loss of land, loss of water resources, demolition
of homes and markets, restrictions on movement and access to health
and education that the Palestinians will eventually leave.
Once complete, the wall will leave less than 13% of historic Palestine
for the indigenous Palestinian population.
Israel is attempting to cleanse the Palestinian population
from lands confiscated by the construction of the wall. On October
2, 2003, the Israeli army issued an order declaring all Occupied
West Bank land between the security wall and Israels
pre-occupation 1967 border as closed (the Closed
Zone). The Order states that No person will enter
the [Closed Zone] and no one will remain there. Free
access to the Closed Zone, which represents approximately 2.9%
of the Occupied West Bank, will only be granted to Israelis
(defined as Israeli citizens, Israeli residents and anyone permitted
to immigrate to Israel (i.e., anyone who is Jewish)). The Order
requires Palestinian residents of the Closed Zone to obtain permits
to live in their houses, farm their land, and to travel. Nothing
in the Order guarantees that permits will be granted or even respected
if indeed granted. Palestinians not residing in the Closed Zone
but whose agricultural lands or jobs are within the Closed Zone
will also be required to apply for a permit to farm their land
or go to work. The Order effectively grants any Jew in the world
the right to freely travel throughout the Closed Zone while denying
the same rights to the Christians and Muslims who live on, farm
and own the land. The Order affects approximately 13,000 Palestinians
living in 15 villages and towns.
For an English
translation of the Israeli Military Order, see http://www.nad-plo.org/hborders3.php
claims that the wall is a temporary measure and can always be
removed when a peace agreement is reached whats wrong
as temporary is a strategy often used by Israel to
justify illegal actions which become permanent. In 1967, when
Israel began violating the Fourth Geneva Convention through the
construction of illegal Israeli colonies in Occupied Palestinian
Territory, Israel claimed the colonies were a temporary
security measure. More than 36 years later, these colonies have
not only become permanent but continue to expand. Israel has never
dismantled any of these temporary colonies and there
are now approximately 370,000 settlers living illegally in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories.
the damage that is being caused by the wall cannot be reversed:
Palestinian farmers have already lost their crops, their land
and their primary source of livelihood; and Palestinian homes
and businesses have been demolished for the walls construction
(such as in Nazlat Issa where 124 shops and 7 homes have been
Israels estimated investment of US$2 million per kilometer
indicates that the wall is intended to be permanent.
In his recent
report on the wall, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, stated:
repeatedly stated that the Barrier is a temporary measure. However
the scope of construction and the amount of occupied West Bank
land that is either being requisitioned for its route or that
will end up between the Barrier and the Green Line are of serious
concern and have implications for the future
of most of the structure on occupied Palestinian land could impair
For the full
UN report, see http://www.nad-plo.org/pdf/unnew1.pdf
that Israel has built agricultural access gates so
that farmers can access their land, how can it be argued that
the wall is about confiscating land?
really wanted to facilitate access of Palestinian farmers to their
land, the wall would have been built on the other side of the
farmland, not between the farmers and their land.
are an Israeli attempt to make the security wall look
humane. In reality however, the gates are irregularly
open. For example, the gates were closed from October 4 through
October 20, 2003 during the olive harvest, causing many farmers
to lose their annual olive crops and related revenue. In the case
of the northern gate in Qalqilya, the gate has never reopened.
The closure of the gates has caused livestock (particularly poultry)
to die. Due to Israels failure to provide advance notification
of the hours of the gates opening, Palestinians endure long,
grueling waits, and are often denied access. Many farmers have
decided to camp and live in their fields in order to ensure access
to their land, but Israeli soldiers have arrested the farmers
and sent them back to their villages.
Palestinians must apply for permits to access their
own land and the criteria for receiving such permits is unclear.
Such permits are not guaranteed and even if granted, are granted
for a limited duration (typically one month) and may not be honored.
For example, in Qalqilya during November 2003, 1,200 farmers applied
for permits and only 300 permits were issued (approximately 25%
of which were issued to dead or absent Palestinians). Indeed,
the very existence of the permit system demonstrates that Israeli
confiscation of Palestinian land has taken legal form.
Israel reverses the right to confiscate Palestinian agricultural
land if it is not being regularly farmed. Consequently, by denying
Palestinian farmers the right to farm their land, Israel is setting
the stage for invoking the use it or lose it laws
to confiscate the land.
hasnt the wall been successful around the Gaza Strip?
With a population
of approximately 1.2 million Palestinians, and a land mass of
approximately 365 km2, the Gaza Strip is among the most densely
populated areas in the world. Since 1994, a wall has been in place
around the Gaza Strip, cutting off the Strips Palestinian
residents from the rest of the world. Palestinians from the Gaza
Strip are unable to leave the Strip unless they obtain Israels
permission to do so, whereas Israeli settlers living illegally
in the Strip have complete freedom of movement.
The wall surrounding
the Occupied Gaza Strip is different from that currently being
built in the Occupied West Bank: the wall around the Gaza Strip
was built on the Green Line and, unlike the wall built in the
Occupied West Bank, does not separate Palestinians from their
lands or from one another.
walls presence, Israel continues to carry out security
related attacks in the Gaza Strip including: (i) military invasions;
(ii) aerial bombings (iii) killing of Palestinian civilians (including
children); (iv) land confiscations; (v) home demolitions and (vi)
assassinations of ticking time bombs even though there
has never been a suicide bomber entering Israel from the Gaza
Strip. (Bob's note: Is this correct? No suicide bombers entering
8. If Israel
only builds the wall on the western portion of the Occupied West
Bank and not on the eastern portion in the Jordan Valley, would
the wall be acceptable?
is no such thing as a humane wall if it operates as
a de facto annexation of Palestinian land or denies Palestinians
freedom of movement or the ability to earn an income. Even without
an eastern portion of the wall, 16.6% of the Occupied West Bank
(home to approximately 380,000 Palestinians), will lie between
the wall and the Green Line. The western portion of the wall alone
has already caused the uprooting of more than 100,000 trees, the
demolition of scores of homes and the destruction of more than
even without building the eastern portion of the wall, Israel
is still able to pursue its policy of caging in Palestinian population
centers. With the exception of Jericho, itself surrounded by trenches
and Israeli soldiers, the Jordan Valley is not densely populated
and some of the villages that do exist there have received demolition
orders for mosques, homes and schools. Consequently, by restricted
Palestinian freedom of movement into the Jordan Valley through
currently existing road blocks, curfews and other travel restrictions,
Israel can still effectively cage in the Palestinian population
while effectively annexing the Jordan Valley.
9. Is there
any proof that Israel is attempting to annex Palestinian land?
Yes. In some
places, such as Qalqilya, checkpoints have been moved further
into Occupied Palestinian Territory with Palestinians requiring
permits to enter Israel if they want to visit those
areas beyond the checkpoint (yet still within Occupied Palestinian
Territory). Additionally, some Palestinian landowners have received
expropriation orders in which Israel claims that it will correct
the border. Thus, while Israel has not passed annexation
laws, it has nevertheless de facto annexed Palestinian land in
violation of international law.
the wall legal under international law?
No. The wall
violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, including the following
obligations which cannot be abrogated by invoking military
on the Use of Collective Punishment:
person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally
committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation
or of terrorism are prohibited. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article
The wall will
serve to divide the Occupied Palestinian Territories with movement
from one area to another controlled entirely by the Israeli army,
in effect punishing the entire Palestinian population. Jewish
Israelis illegally living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
will, however, continue to enjoy total freedom of movement.
persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in
any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present
Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation
of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said
territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities
of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any
annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied
territory. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 47)
de facto annexing additional areas of the Occupied Palestinian
the security wall legal under the Oslo Agreements?
No, the wall
violates the Oslo Agreements.
to Preserve the Territorial Integrity of the Occupied Palestinian
The two sides
view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial
unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during
the interim period. (Interim Agreement, Chapter 2, Article XI)
of a wall within the Occupied Palestinian Territories violates
the territorial integrity of the West Bank.
Against Restricting Freedom of Movement:
from Israels security powers and responsibilities in accordance
with this Agreement, movement of people, vehicles and goods in
the West Bank, between cities, towns, villages and refugee camps,
will be free and normal and shall not need to be effected through
checkpoints or roadblocks. (Interim Agreement, Annex I, Article
IX, para 2(a))
security powers, with respect to freedom of movement, extend only
to prohibiting or limiting the entry into Israel of persons and
of vehicles from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Building
a wall within the Occupied West Bank affects Palestinian freedom
of movement not only into Israel, but also within and throughout
the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
is the international community doing to stop this?
Despite world-wide condemnation of the wall (including a UN General
Assembly Resolution demanding that Israel stop and reverse the
walls construction) and even United States and European
concerns, the international community has taken no action that
has had any effect. The Fourth Geneva Convention obliges the international
community to ensure that the Convention, the primary purpose of
which is to protect a population under occupation, is respected:
The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect
for the present Convention in all circumstances. (Fourth Geneva
Convention, Article 1)
fact that Israels security wall violates international
law and the Oslo Agreements, the international community has taken
no action to comply with its obligation to enforce the Fourth
Geneva Convention, thereby teaching Israel that it is above the
an interview with Haaretz newspaper, Deputy PM Olmert describes
his vision for peace with the Palestinians based on
the idea of unilateral separation and the erection of the wall.
David Landau, Maximum Jews; Minimum Palestinians, Haaretz
GA Coverage, Online Edition 5 December 2003. http://www.haaretz.com/GA/pages/ShArtGA.jhtml?itemNo=360533
Defense Forces Order Concerning Security Directives (Judea and
Samaria)(number 378), 1970 Declaration Concerning the Closure
of Area Number s/2/03 (Seam Area), Section 3a.
of the Secretary-General Prepared Pursuant to General Assembly
Resolution ES-10/13, UN Doc. A/ES-10/248 at 7. (24 November 2003).