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Israeli West Bank barrier/effects and consequences

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BethlehemRoad

Bethlehem Road

Part of the series on the
Israeli West Bank barrier
Checkpoint near Abu Dis
contents
About
Overview
Effects and consequences
Legal Status
Opinions on the barrier
External links and resources
Portal:Israel-Palestine

Effects on Israeli security

Israeli statistics indicate that the barrier has substantially reduced the number of Palestinian infiltrations and suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians in Israel and in Israeli settlements, and Israeli officials assert that completion of the barrier will make it even more effective in stopping these attack since "An absolute halt in terrorist activities has been noticed in the West Bank areas where the fence has been constructed".[1] Israel's state comptroller, however, notes that most of the suicide bombers crossed into Israel through existing checkpoints.

Israeli officers (including the head of the Shin Bet) quoted in the newspaper Maariv have said that in the areas where the barrier was complete, the number of hostile infiltrations has decreased to almost zero. Maariv also stated that Palestinian militants, including a senior member of Islamic Jihad, had confirmed that the barrier made it much harder to conduct attacks inside Israel. Since the completion of the fence in the area of Tulkarm and Qalqilyah in June 2003, there have been no successful attacks from those areas. All attacks were intercepted or the suicide bombers detonated prematurely In a March 23, 2008 interview, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah complained to the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq that the separation barrier "limits the ability of the resistance to arrive deep within [Israeli territory] to carry out suicide bombing attacks, but the resistance has not surrendered or become helpless, and is looking for other ways to cope with the requirements of every stage" of the intifada.

There is general agreement that the barrier improved Israeli security with regard to suicide bombings.

However, there is debate over how effective the barrier has been in preventing other attacks. A report by the Shin Beit, published in early 2006 notes that attacks in 2005 have significantly decreased due to increased pursuing of Palestinian militants by the Israeli army and intelligence organizations, Hamas's increased political activity, and a truce among Palestinian militant groups in the Palestinian Territories. According to Haaretz the report also mentions that "The security fence is no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it."[2] Former Israeli Secretary of Defence Moshe Arens claims that the reduction in Palestinian violence is largely due to the IDF's entry into the West Bank in 2002.

Effects on demography and asset values

According to a 2005 report published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, the barrier being built around Jerusalem may have unintended effects on the city. According to the study, many Jerusalem Palestinians who were living in areas outside the barrier are now moving back into the city, creating housing shortages, increased real estate prices, and the phenomena of Palestinians moving into traditionally Jewish neighborhoods of the city.

Arguments from right wing Israeli circles that the fence will reduce the Jewish population behind it have been countered from the same circles, arguing that attempts to keep Jews out of the land they believe is theirs are no more likely to succeed today than they were in Mandate Palestine, when the British blockaded the shores and issued the White Paper of 1939 to prevent Jews from purchasing land in the Mandate.

File:Israeli West Bank barrier جدار الفصل العنصري

Effects on Palestinians

The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, reduction of the amount of Israel Defense Forces checkpoints, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical services in Israel, restricted access to water sources, and economic effects.

Reduced freedoms

In a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:

{{Cquote2|...it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, people’s access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barrier’s exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences. This has led to considerable anxiety amongst Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted...The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns

An often-quoted example of the effects of the barrier is the Palestinian town of Qalqilyah, a city of around 45,000, which is surrounded on all sides by the barrier. One 8 meter-high concrete section of this wall follows the Green Line between the city and the nearby Trans-Israel Highway. This section, referred to as an "anti-sniper wall," has been claimed to prevent gun attacks against Israeli motorists on the Trans-Israel Highway.

The city is accessible through a military checkpoint on the main road from the east, and an underground tunnel built in September 2004 on the south side connects Qalqilyah with the adjacent village of Habla. Recently, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the government to change the route of the barrier in this area to ease movement of Palestinians between Qalqilyah and five surrounding villages. In the same ruling, the court rejected the arguments that the fence must be built only on the Green Line. The ruling cited the topography of the terrain, security considerations, and sections 43 and 52 of The Hague Regulations 1907 and Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention as reasons for this rejection

In early October 2003, the IDF OC Central Command declared the area between the separation barrier in the northern section of the West Bank (Stage 1) and the Green Line a closed military area for an indefinite period of time. New directives stated that every Palestinian over the age of twelve living in the enclaves created in the closed area have to obtain a “permanent resident permit” from the Civil Administration to enable them to continue to live in their homes. Other residents of the West Bank have to obtain special permits to enter the area.

Fewer checkpoints and roadblocks

In June 2004, The Washington Times dated October 25, 2004, from the Israeli mission to Kofi Annan, Israel's government pointed out that a number of restrictions east of the barrier have been lifted as a result of it, including a reduction in checkpoints from 71 to 47 and roadblocks from 197 to 111. The Jerusalem Post reports that, for some Palestinians who are Israeli citizens living in the Israeli Arab town of Umm el-Fahm (population 42,000) near Jenin, the barrier has "significantly improved their lives" because, on one hand, it prevents would-be thieves or terrorists from coming to their town and, on the other hand, has increased the flow of customers from other parts of Israel who would normally have patronised Palestinian business in the West Bank, resulting in an economic boom. The report states that the downsides are that the barrier has divided families in half and "damaged Israeli Arabs' solidarity with the Palestinians living on the other side of the Green Line".

Bethlehem Wall Graffiti 4

Graffiti on the Bethlehem ghetto wall

A UN report released in August 2005 observed that the existence of the barrier "replaced the need for closures: movement within the northern West Bank, for example, is less restrictive where the Barrier has been constructed. Physical obstacles have also been removed in Ramallah and Jerusalem governorates where the Barrier is under construction." The report notes that more freedom of movement in rural areas may ease Palestinian access to hospitals and schools, but also notes that restrictions on movement between urban population centers have not significantly changed.[3]

Political impact

The barrier's political impact is substantial and not what one might expect. Even the prospect of the wall created a bizarre political situation: "The barrier has united, of all people, the Palestinians and their arch-enemies, the Jewish settlers. Settlers oppose the wall because they are left outside its protection; Palestinians oppose the wall as a unilateral Israeli redrawing of borders. On the other side are Israelis who don't live on settlements. [sic] One recent poll shows 68% approval of the wall, which would protect major cities that have been subjected to bombings. If the Palestinians come to their senses, they'll realize that the current terrorism policy, which is producing the wall and economic isolation, will leave them worse off in every way.... Yet the wall also holds the seeds of a peace deal. It would in effect be a secure border for Israel precisely where the Palestinians want it.... It's hardly inevitable, but the wall just might be a surprising start down the road to a Middle East peace deal."[4]

Loss of land

Parts of the barrier are built on land seized from Palestinians. In a recent report, the UN noted that the most recent barrier route allocates more segments to be built on the Green Line itself compared to previous draft routes of the barrier. However, in its current route the Wall is annexing 9.5% of the total area of the West Bank to the Israeli side of the barrier.

In early 2003, 63 shops straddling the Green Line were demolished by the IDF during construction of the wall in the village of Nazlat Issa. In August 2003, an additional 115 shops and stalls (an important source of income for several communities) and five to seven homes there were also demolished.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 15 communities were to be directly affected, numbering approximately 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals. In addition to loss of land, in the city of Qalqilyah one-third of the city's water wells lie on the other side of the barrier. The Israeli Supreme Court notes the Israeli government's rejection of accusations of a de facto annexation of these wells, stating that "the construction of the fence does not affect the implementation of the water agreements determined in the (interim) agreement".

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) estimates that in the north of the West Bank approximately 80 per cent of Palestinians who own land on the other side of the barrier have not received permits from the Israeli authorities, and hence cannot cultivate their fields.

Health and medical services

Médecins du Monde, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have stated that the barrier "harms West Bank health".[5] Upon completion of the construction, the organizations predict, the barrier would prevent over 130,000 Palestinian children from being immunised, and deny more than 100,000 pregnant women (out of which 17,640 are high risk pregnancies) access to healthcare in Israel. In addition, almost a third of West Bank villages will suffer from lack of access to healthcare. After completion, many residents may lose complete access to emergency care at night. In towns near Jerusalem (Abu Dis and al-Eizariya), for example, average time for an ambulance to travel to the nearest hospital has increased from 10 minutes to over 110 minutes.[6] A report from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel states that the barrier imposes "almost-total separation" on the hospitals from the population they are supposed to serve.[7] The report also noted that patients from the West Bank visiting Jerusalem's Palestinian clinics declined by half from 2002 to 2003.

Change in tactics and strategy

Members of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been less able to conduct attacks in Israel, the numbers of which have decreased in areas where the barrier has been completed.Daniel Ayalon, Israel's ambassador to the United States, suggested that reduced ability to conduct attacks would "save the political process" because the barrier would neutralize the ability of militant groups "to hold that process hostage" by conducting these acts.[8]

In his November 2006 interview with Al-Manar TV, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Salah said that the barrier is an important obstacle, and that "if it weren’t there, the situation would be entirely different."[9]

Economic changes

Real GDP growth in the West Bank increased modestly in 2003, 2004, and 2005 after declining in 2000, 2001, and 2002 (see Figure 1). However, these drops in economic productivity came before the construction of the barrier began. In 2005, the PNA Ministry of Finance cited the 2003 "construction of the separation wall" as one reason for the depressed Palestinian economic activity. now lie outside the barrier, and farmers require permits from Israeli authorities to access their lands that are on the opposite side. In the town of Jayyus, in the district of Qalqilya there are three gates in the barrier for the purpose of admitting farmers with permits to their fields that are open three times a day for a total of 50 minutes,[10] although according to the NAD they have often been arbitrarily closed for extended periods leading to loss of crops, and one of these gates has been closed since August 2004 due to a suicide attack that took place near the gate. The Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem notes that "thousands of Palestinians have difficulty going to their fields and marketing their produce in other areas of the West Bank. Farming is a primary source of income in the Palestinian communities situated along the Barrier's route, an area that constitutes one of the most fertile areas in the West Bank. The harm to the farming sector is liable to have drastic economic effects on the residents – whose economic situation is already very difficult – and drive many families into poverty."[11][12]


  1. [1][dead link]
  2. Amos Hrel (2006). "Shin Bet: Palestinian truce main cause for reduced terror". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=664916. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  3. http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/opt/docs/UN/OCHA/ochaHU0805_En.pdf
  4. http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jul2002/nf20020718_1722.htm
  5. "Barrier 'harms West Bank health'". BBC News. 15 February 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4268079.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  6. Deborah Cohen (2005;330:381 (19 February)). "Barrier in West Bank threatens residents' health care, says report". BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/330/7488/381. Retrieved 2008-03-17. "In Abu Dis and Aizaria, two Palestinian towns where the barrier has already been completed, the average time for an ambulance to travel to the nearest hospitals in Jerusalem has increased from about 10 minutes to over one hour and 50 minutes, according to the report. Mr Garrigue says that once the barrier is completed this problem will affect many more villages." 
  7. Ibrahim Habib (October 20, 2005). "A Wall in the Heart - The Separation Barrier and its Impact on the Right to Health and on Palestinian Hospitals in East Jerusalem" (Word DOC). Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. http://www.phr.org.il/phr/files/articlefile_1134502825051.doc. Retrieved 2008-03-17. 
  8. Israel's ambassador defends security fence by Daniel Ayalon (The Washington Times) August 26, 2003
  9. Bulletin on November 11, PIJ leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah interview to Al-Manar TV (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S)). November 15, 2006
  10. "We are no longer able to see the sun set". pub. 7–13 July 2005. http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/750/focus.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-17. "In the town of Jayyus, in the Qalqilya Governorate, the Israeli military opens the check-point briefly. An Israeli military sign in Arabic announces the check-point is open from 7:40 to 8:00, 14:00 to 14:15, and 18:45-19:00, only 50 minutes a day." 
  11. B'Tselem (2007). "Separation Barrier". B'Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/English/Separation_Barrier/index.asp. Retrieved 2008-03-17. "The harm to the farming sector is liable to have drastic economic effects on the residents - whose economic situation is already very difficult - and drive many families into poverty." 
  12. "Israel barrier 'hurting farmers'". BBC News. 21 March 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4830654.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-17. "A UN report into the humanitarian impact of Israel's West Bank barrier says it has caused widespread losses to Palestinian farmers." 

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