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Israeli West Bank barrier
|Effects and consequences|
|Opinions on the barrier|
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The Israeli West Bank barrier is a barrier being constructed by the State of Israel. It consists of a network of fences with vehicle-barrier trenches surrounded by an on average 60 meter wide exclusion area (90%) and high concrete walls up to 8 meters high (10%). The barrier is built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or "Green Line" between Israel and Palestinian West Bank. In April 2006, the length of the barrier approved by the Israeli government was 703 kilometers (436 miles). In August 2008, approximately 58.04% had been constructed, 8.96% was under construction, and construction had not yet begun on 33% of the barrier. The Jerusalem Post reported in July 2007 that the barrier may not be completed until 2010, seven years after it was originally supposed to be finished.
The barrier is highly controversial. Supporters argue that the barrier is necessary to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian terrorism, including the suicide bombing attacks that increased significantly during the Al-Aqsa Intifada; The significantly reduced number of incidents of suicide bombings from 2002 to 2005 has been partly attributed to the barrier.
Opponents of the barrier object that the route substantially deviates from the Green Line into the occupied territories captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967. They argue that the barrier is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security, violates international law, has the intent or effect to pre-empt final status negotiations, and severely restricts Palestinians who live nearby, particularly their ability to travel freely within the West Bank and to access work in Israel. In a 2004 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice declared that "Israel cannot rely on a right of self‑defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall. Construction of the barrier is contrary to international law." Settler opponents, by contrast, condemn the barrier for appearing to renounce the Jewish claim to the whole of the Land of Israel.
Two similar barriers, the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier and the Israeli-built 7-9 meter (23 – 30 ft) wall separating Gaza from Egypt (temporarily breached on January 23, 2008), have been much less controversial.