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ISRAEL: Six years later, UN says barrier is still a big problem

Israel-barrier

Six years ago, on July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague gave an advisory opinion on Israel's construction of a part-concrete, part-fence barrier running along its borders with the West Bank. The court stated that in addition to being "contrary to international law," the construction of the barrier does not justify Israel's security objectives.

Since then, United Nations officials operating in the occupied Palestinian territories have marked the anniversary of this opinion with heartbreaking stories of the impact of the barrier on the lives and livelihood of almost three million Palestinians living in the West Bank, but mainly those caught between the barrier and the Israeli border, in what has been termed the "seam zone."
 
UN officials from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the occupied Palestinian territories (OCHA), the World Health Organization and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees warned this week that unabated construction of the barrier continues to have adverse effects on the everyday lives of Palestinians.

They said the barrier and Israeli military laws associated with it had made it very difficult for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to reach medical facilities in Jerusalem without first obtaining a permit from the army. They said it sometimes takes patients several days to get a permit for any of East Jerusalem's six specialized hospitals.

 
Farmers have also had difficulty reaching their farm land in the seam zone, officials said.

Currently there are 57 barrier gates which open on a daily, seasonal or seasonal-weekly basis, officials said.

The majority of the gates are open only during the olive harvest season and usually for limited periods during the day. As "visitors," farmers are not permitted to stay on their land overnight and must return at the last gate opening time, officials added.

The combination of the restricted allocation of visitor permits and the limited number and opening times of the barrier gates has severely curtailed agricultural practice and undermined rural livelihoods, officials said.

They recommended allowing farmers to reach their land behind the barrier at any time of the day and year and said West Bank and Gaza Strip residents should be able to reach East Jerusalem medical facilities without delay or obstruction.

Israel began construction on the barrier in the summer of 2002 after a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. The barrier's total length is 707 kilometers -- about 440 miles, or more than twice the length of the 1949 armistice line, also known as the green line, between the West Bank and Israel.

According to UN figures, more than 61% of the barrier has been completed, with an additional 8.4% of the barrier's total length under construction and 30% planned but not yet built. When completed, 85% of the barrier will run inside the West Bank, thus incorporating 9.4% of the West Bank area, mainly where blocks of settlements have been built.

Ray Dolphin, OCHA barrier specialist, said there is "a strong correlation between the route of the barrier and settlements in the West Bank." He said Israel is incorporating land in the West Bank with the construction and route of the barrier "taking into account expansion of settlements."

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator in the Palestinian Authority, said Thursday on the ICJ opinion anniversary that "we are witnessing colonization in the 21st century with Israel's settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory, and the wall is one of the ugliest manifestations of this grave violation of international law. It separates farmers from their lands, children from their schools and families from each other. It is a land grab disguised as a security measure and its purpose is to allow the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to expand. Simply put, the wall is an integral part of a regime intent on heading in the direction of apartheid."

-- Maher Abukhater in Jerusalem

Photo: A Palestinian man walks next to Israel's barrier in the West Bank village of Abu Dis, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, on July 3, 2010. Credit: Maya Hitij / Associated Press
Comments () | Archives (17)

Pretty one-sided to only discuss the Palestinian side of the the Security Barrier issue. I understand that the report's focus is on the responses by UN aid groups to issues presented by the wall for Palestinians, but a paragraph, or a few sentences even, about why Israel constructed the wall in the first place would have been great.

While I truly do feel for the innocent Palestinians who suffer as a result of the Security Fence's construction, I also understand that hundreds of Israelis were being killed by Palestinian suicide bombers regularly before the Fence's construction. That number has drastically dropped as a result of the construction.

Also, it might have shown some impartiality if you had discussed, even in a sentence, the issues with the ICJ Security Fence decision, i.e. the court gave an opinion without even hearing the Israeli side of the argument. Most courts would never give an opinion without hearing both sides. Anyway, that's just my 2 cents.

pg 140 of the 9-11 commission report states support for israel by america was THE reason we were attacked. I know this paper wont print that fact because this paper was part of the "they hate our freedom" cordinated lie to protect israel from american backlash.

REPLY TO ROBERT THEODORE. WELL WRITEN WELL SAID I DONT HAVE TIME NOW TO OFFER MY FEW WORDS BUT YOU HAVE VOICED MY THOUGHT.

Uh Arch.... "Heading in the direction of Apartheid" cannot possibly mean that the Palestinians have been suffering from an oppressive Apartheid regime for the past 10 years.

As far as I'm concerned, the entire attack on Israel as an Apartheid state is as specious as the attack on Zionism as being some form of racism. Sorry, Charlie, that didn't quite work in the '70s.

Bottom line, Arch: There is no Apartheid in Israel. And there most clearly hasn't been for the past 10 years ESPECIALLY when one of the Palestinian so-called statesmen admit that it's not there yet.

But, please, continue beating the dead horse. After all, this is your cup of tea.


Is the world just plain stupid?
An interesting questionnaire for Palestinian Advocates
By Yashiko Sagamori

If you are so sure that " Palestine , the country, goes back through most of recorded history," I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine :
1. When was it founded and by whom?
2. What were its borders?
3. What was its capital?
4. What were its major cities?
5. What constituted the basis of its economy?
6. What was its form of government?
7. Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
8. Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
9. What was the language of the country of Palestine?
10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?
11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.

12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?
You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?
And here is the least sarcastic question of all: If the people you mistakenly call "Palestinians" are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over -- or thrown out of -- the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?
I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day "Palestinians" to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won't work here.
The truth should be obvious to everyone who wants to know it. Arab countries have never abandoned the dream of destroying Israel; they still cherish it today. Having time and again failed to achieve their evil goal with military means, they decided to fight Israel by proxy. For that purpose, they created a terrorist organization, cynically called it "the Palestinian people" and installed it in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. How else cans you explain the refusal by Jordan and Egypt to unconditionally accept back the "West Bank" and Gaza, respectively?
The fact is, Arabs populating Gaza, Judea, and Samaria have much less claim to nationhood than that Indian tribe that successfully emerged in Connecticut with the purpose of starting a tax-exempt casino: at least that tribe had a constructive goal that motivated them.


The so-called "Palestinians" have only one motivation: the destruction of Israel, and in my book that is not sufficient to consider them a nation" -- or anything else except what they really are: a terrorist organization that will one day be dismantled.
In fact, there is only one way to achieve peace in the Middle East. Arab countries must acknowledge and accept their defeat in their war against Israel and, as the losing side should, pay Israel reparations for the more than 50 years of devastation they have visited on it. The most appropriate form of such reparations would be the removal of their terrorist organization from the land of Israel and accepting Israel 's ancient sovereignty over Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. That will mark the end of the Palestinian people.
What are you saying again was its beginning?

I find it unbelievable how low some people’s reading comprehension level is. ABG posted a comment @Skeptic in which ABG claims that Saeb Erekat, “agree(s) that there is no Apartheid in Israel. Ouch.”

ABG, I don’t know how you can interpret the following as anything other than Erekat believes that there is apartheid.

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator in the Palestinian Authority, said Thursday on the ICJ opinion anniversary that "we are witnessing colonization in the 21st century with Israel's settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory, and the wall is one of the ugliest manifestations of this grave violation of international law. It separates farmers from their lands, children from their schools and families from each other. It is a land grab disguised as a security measure and its purpose is to allow the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to expand. Simply put, the wall is an integral part of a regime intent on heading in the direction of apartheid."

If you want to parse “heading in the direction of apartheid” to mean that there is no apartheid in Israel, then you are deluded. At a minimum, you would have to concede that Israeli racism exists and, if it continues on its present course, then there will be full blown apartheid.

@Skeptic: It must really piss you off that Saeb Erekat and the Presbyterian Church agree that there is no Apartheid in Israel. Ouch.

@LA Times: Today was the second day in a week that Hamas has stressed in a public demonstration that they plan on keeping Gilad Shalit away from 3rd neutral parties and, of course, freedom. And you still haven't posted a silly blog piece about this. And I'm supposed to believe that you guys have a semblance of credibility. Because this is what you tell me.

Just keeping track.

The WALL stops Arab sniper fire and brings peace. Inconvenience is better than death.

Stefano888 & Adam, your comments are ludicrous.

Morocco has "the security belt" a defensive wall that's 2,720km long to protect it from the Polisario. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

India has a 3,300km wall separating itself from Pakistan. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

Saudi Arabia has a concrete wall with sophisticated electronic monitoring devices along its border with Yemen, and which reduced Yemenite territory by 7kms. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

Saudi Arabia has a 900km ultra modern barrier on its border with Iraq as well. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

Turkey occupies Northern Cyprus and has built a barrier dividing the island in half. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

In 2007 Thailand erected a 75km barrier along part of its border with Malaysia explicitly to keep out Muslim terrorists. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

In Pakistan there is a 2,400km barrier along the border with Afghanistan. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

South Korea has a barrier between itself and North Korea. The Hague and the UN have never complained about this.

And of course, let's not forget the barrier being built by the U.S. along its southern border to protect us from Mexico.

Israel is perfectly justified in building its barrier and as a result, both Jewish and Arab lives have been saved.

Saeb Erekat quoted as saying:

"Simply put, the wall is an integral part of a regime intent on heading in the direction of apartheid."

It's not heading in the direction of apartheid, it already IS a clear illustration of apartheid and couldn't get any clearer than THAT!

President Jimmy Carter was correct: peace, not apartheid, with the wall in the West Bank. His new book should be, "Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto."

G-d gave all of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people as an ETERNAL promise. So, why does the media continue to talk about the true owners of this land? Read the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New and Old Testaments continually state that the land belongs to the Jewish people. The only people that would deny and challenge this fact are Muslims (atheists). Muslims don't accept anything.

Hey, Adam. Since the wall was built, there have been zero suicide bomb attacks inside Israel. A Passover seder hasn't been shot up since the incident in Netanya, and there hasn't been a West Bank incursion by Israel since You tell me you're the man with the tax dollars to thank for that.

On a serious note, I guess you're really pissed off that there hasn't been any suicide bombers attacking Israelis at cafes and pizzerias and dance clubs and while eating a religious, progressive meal. Sorry, Bro. It sucks to be you.

Neither Israel or USA are reliable.
Many many times they do not say the all truth and their real intension.
Words flying with the wind.
Peace, only when Jesus comes back, soon very soon.
Do you believe in what the Bible says?

Most of the allegations are false:
The olive harvest is from public lands and olives trees don't require tending or watering and are immune from disease and insect infestation. Harvest takes about ten days and there is a wide margin of error for when to harvest. Traditionally, whole families went camping in the orchards for 10 days with poles and sheets to harvest, no in and out, that's changed for the safety of both sides so militants infiltrators do mix in.

Hospital access to Jerusalem facilities or to Jerusalem at all is restricted on the basis of nationality and not the barrier. Only Israelis and card carrying Jeruslaem residents have the right to free passage in Israel. Jews are not allowed by Moslems to pray at their holy sites in jerusalem which costs nothing and has no consequences to the Arabs, yet they want Israeli quality healthcare. They want something for nothing. Let them go to Bersheva or Ashdod or Haifa or build their own hospitals for health care. Israel and WB are so tiny its nothing to take an ambulance across to Jordan, unless its being used to transport rockets.

For every Arab heartbreaking sob story thre are Israeli Jews dead and maimed by militants who are now excluded by the barrier. Its concrete in places to stop Arab sniper fire into Jewish homes and street, and cheaper chain link fence and barbed wire elswhere to stop suicide bombers.

"Apartheid"? of whom? It is the Jews who have been 'concentrated' into Israel having been ejected from neighboring Arab states who stole all their lands, bank accounts, possessions, and citizenship from where they lived before there was an Islam and Arabs were pagans.

When the final borders are drawn up, if the barrier is inside Israel, what will people say? Its unlawful? How? Much of it is inside the 1967 Green line today, which is what the Arabs want as a border. What's the gripe? That they can't choose? When they bomb and shoot Jews they made their choices. When Arafat rejected peace they made their choice. when they refuse to negotiate, they have chosen. Time marches on and the Israelis are using facts on the ground to pressure the Arabs to move toward peace when otherwise Israelis have no leverage or influence over the Arabs who think victory over Jews is just around the corner. Well, now, a Jewish settlement is just around the corner, instead. They want Jew-free lands and Israel is stuck with 1.4 mm Arabs, a fifth column. The barrier is a tool, not an end unto itself.

The UN's bias in this as in other matters concerning Israel is blatant. The fence is well within international norms and is only one of 20 or more such fences in different countries, yet the UN never criticizes the others. It is not "a part-concrete, part-fence barrier": 97% is fence, 3% is concrete, which makes it, for practical purposes, a fence. It has forced a drop in terrorist attacks on Israelis of roughly 80% . Will the UN, in its wisdom, kindly explain why that is a bad thing? So long as the Palestinian Authority continues to praise terrorists, to call (in Arabic, never in English) for the recapture of the whole of Israel, and to leave terrorists unpunished, Israel has every right to protect its citizens. The fence is unfortunate, but the fence is necessary.

As a US taxpayer I would like to apologize to the entire civilized world for my tax money being used to build a racist, apartheid wall. I'm truly sorry.


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