The Wall: Land Theft and Forced Expulsion
- The Wall is not being built on, or in most cases near the 1967 Green Line, but rather cuts deep into the West Bank, expanding Israel's theft of Palestinian land and resources.
- When completed, the Wall will de facto annex some 50% of the West Bank, isolating communities into cantons, enclaves and "military zones".
- The Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including almost 1.5 million refugees, will be living on only 12% of historic Palestine.
- Nearly 16% of Palestinians in the West Bank will be "outside" the Wall in the de facto annexed areas by Israel and due to unbearable living conditions —the loss of land, markets, movement and livelihoods—faced with expulsion. This includes over 200,000 residents of East Jerusalem, who will be totally isolated from the rest of the West Bank.
- 98 % of the settler population will be included in the de facto annexed areas.
- The Wall is not a new "idea" - since 1994 the Gaza Strip has been surrounded by a barrier which cuts off the residents from the rest of the world; in the past year Israel has been expanding this barrier as well as building a new "Iron Wall".
The Wall's Location and Costs
- The Wall's total length will be some 730 km.
- Currently, the Wall is being built in the districts of Qalqiliya, Tulkarem, Jenin, Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem by some 250 bulldozers while measurements in preparation for the Wall are taking place all over the West Bank.
- The Wall costs some $3.4 billion, approximately $4.7 million per kilometer1.
The Multiple Structures of the Wall
- ***image1***The concrete Wall, now present in Qalqiliya, parts of Tulkarem and East Jerusalem is 8 meters high – twice the height of the Berlin Wall - with armed watchtowers and a "buffer zone" 30-100 meters wide for electric fences, trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrol.
- In other places, the Wall consists of layers of razor wire, military patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches, surveillance cameras and in the middle a three meters high electric fence.
- The Wall's "buffer zone" paves the way for large-scale demolitions and the expulsion of nearby residents as in many places the Wall is located just meters away from homes, shops, and schools.
- In addition to being located by the Wall, some communities in the "first phase" are further closed-off by an "Isolation Barrier", ensuring they are surrounded on all sides.
- The Israeli military has created "gates" in the Wall; however these do not provide any guarantee for farmers to access their land but instead strengthen Israel's strangling system of permits and checkpoints where Palestinians are beaten, detained, shot at and humiliated.
***image3***The Wall in all of its forms encircles regions with the highest Palestinian population density into three ghettos in the West Bank while Israeli Jewish-only settlements and "by-pass" roads further divide these areas. The isolation from basic services in these areas along with the loss of land, markets, and resources, equates to the inability for communities to sustain themselves adequately and with dignity.
- The northwestern part from Jenin to Qalqiliya (the "first phase2" of 145 km) is "complete" while continuing south until Ramallah. In the northeast, the Wall extends from Jenin to Ramallah, merging with the other portion of the Wall to form a ghetto in the north.
- Within the "first phase", 16 villages west of the Wall have been de facto annexed to Israel and some 50 villages are separated from their lands.
- Also in the "first phase", Israel has confiscated 36 groundwater wells and at least another 14 wells are threatened for demolition in the Wall's "buffer zone".
- South of Qalqiliya the Wall extends up to 22.5 km east – right into the heart of the West Bank - in order to annex the large settlements of Ariel and Qedumim.
- The lands between the Wall and the Green Line have been declared by Israel as a “seam zone” whereby all residents and land owners must obtain a permit to remain in their homes and on their lands. This translates into the de facto annexation of 3% of the West Bank in the “first phase” alone.
- The Wall in Jerusalem encircles the holy city and the ring of settler colonies around it, furthering the completing the isolation of Jerusalem from the West Bank.
- At the same time, the Wall rips through villages and neighborhoods, separating families, cutting social and economic ties, and ghettoizing areas deemed by Israel not belonging to Jerusalem.
- This portion is nearing completion in the north towards Ramallah and is under construction in various parts of the east and the south towards Bethlehem.
- The Jerusalem district will, in total, lose 90% of its land when the Wall is completed.
- In the southern West Bank the Wall encircles Bethlehem and Hebron by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west.
- In Bethlehem and Hebron concrete walls are coming right up to main holy sites, Rachel's Tomb and Abraham's Mosque respectively; Rachel's Tomb is already inaccessible to Palestinians.
- ***image2***The Gaza Strip, with a population of some 1.3 million people in 365 km2 is one of the most densely populated places on the globe; being completely surrounded, for years now, by walls and razor wire it is an obvious prison for all of its residents.
- During this past year, extensive destruction to land and homes has been taking place in Rafah in order to clear way for a 3 km long Iron Wall and its "military zone" along the Egyptian border. The Iron Wall, eight meters high, is equipped with three electronic doors from which Israeli tanks and home demolition bulldozers enter the camp to carry out incursions and massacres.
- In total, over 2000 dunums of land have been razed, hundreds of homes demolished, and 35 Palestinians killed in the various areas close to the Wall construction3.
The Israeli Position
- Likud: "Israel will greatly accelerate the construction of the security fence. Today we can already see it taking shape," stated Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (at the Herzliya Conference, Dec 18th, 2003).
- Labor: Last May, former Prime Minister E. Barak stated "There is no explanation as to why Israel cannot build a bigger, ten-times longer fence [than the one in the Gaza Strip], and close off Israel and the settlement blocs [in the West Bank]," (Ha'aretz, May 15, 2002).
- Meretz (considered far-left): "Too little too late but still in the right direction." (Avshalom Villan, Member of the Knesset, in response to the cabinet's decision to build the Wall in the northern West Bank, April 15, 2002).
- "Those who try and say that the fence doesn't represent a political line don't know what they're talking about…" stated the head of the Jordan Valley "settlers' council", David Levy. "Everyone is playing this double game, and it's convenient for everybody. That is why I am in favor of the fence, obviously it will put us inside [towards Israel]." (Yedioth Ahronoth, May 31, 2003).
- "I haven't sat with the prime minister recently," says Ron Nahman, the mayor of the settlement Ariel, "but the map of the fence, the sketch of which you see here, is the same map I saw during every visit Arik [Ariel Sharon] made here since 1978." (Yedioth Ahronoth, May 23, 2003).
- In November 2000 E. Barak approved the first project to build a "barrier".
- Construction of the Wall, including land confiscation and the uprooting of trees, began in June 2002 west of Jenin.
- In September 2002, the first public map of the Wall-consisting of only a portion of the northern part -was made available to the public.
- In September 2002, the steering committee approved the inclusion of Rachel's Tomb within the borders of the Wall.
- In mid-March 2003 the Israeli government announced to alter the Wall's path to include Ariel and Immanuel settlements as a part of the settlers' council proposal.
- The following week, Sharon declared the expansion of the Wall by building a wall within and along the entire Jordan Valley, bringing the settlements in this area under total Israeli control.
- In April 2003, Israel announced the completion of 27 km of the Wall.
- On July 2003, the Israeli government allotted an additional $171 million for the construction of the Wall.
- On the July 2003 the Israeli defense Ministry announced the completion of the "first phase" of the Wall, a total of 145 km.
- On October 2nd, 2003 Israel issued military orders declaring all lands west of the Wall’s "first phase" as a "seam zone", forcing a permit system that institutionalizes the de facto annexation of these lands.
- In December 2003, Israel declared that in 2004 520 km of the planned 728 km would be completed with the entire "project" finished in 2005.
1 The West Bank WALL: Humanitarian Status Report, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), July 2003.
2 For more information see the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Fact Sheet: The Wall's "First Phase".
3 Figures from al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Gaza.