The Apartheid Wall
The Apartheid Wall: What is it?
The separation barrier, the annexation wall or apartheid wall is in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. It is the most visible element of Israel’s occupation and control of the land and people of Palestine. It consists of part wall, part fence, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, an electronic monitoring system, patrol roads, and a buffer zone. Once complete the wall will stretch more than twice the length of the 1967 border. Contrary to public belief, the Wall is not being built on or near the internationally recognized Green Line, but rather cuts deep into the occupied Palestinian West Bank. When completed it is estimated that 85%, of the wall will run deep inside occupied Palestinian territory, in effect, annexing approximately 46% of occupied Palestinian land. The cost of the Wall is now estimated at $2.1 billion. Furthermore, it costs approximately $571 million to construct alternative roads and tunnels and requires the Israeli government to spend an annual average of $260 million on maintenance.
Why was it built?
In 1992, The Israeli Prime Minister Rabin proposed to create a physical barrier to separate the Israeli and Palestinian populations. Construction began two years later along the Green Line which is a geo-political border, agreed upon in the 1949 Armistice Agreements after the 1948 ethnic cleansing of his-toric Palestine.
The Israeli government suggests that the barrier was built as a temporary security measure. However it can be plainly deduced that the barrier is rather a permanent structure that aims to create a
political border between Israel and Palestine, a border which is not based on UN resolutions, interna-tional law or any negotiations.
Impact on Palestinians
The wall causes around 12% of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank to endure endless hard-ship because of the loss of land, the loss of a large amount of farmland and water supplies, livelihood and causes severe restriction of movement.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are about 150 Palestinian communities which have part of their land isolated by this illegal barrier. 257,265 Pal-estinians are living in villages surrounded by the wall, settlements and settler roads. 8,557 Palestinians live in villages isolated between the Wall and the Green Line, from these: 7,500 Palestinians will re-quire special permits to continue living in their own homes and another 23,000 will be isolated if the Wall is completed as planned. 6,314 Palestinians live in villages which are now totally isolated and will be threatened with expulsion.
Access to agricultural land is gained via agricultural gates in the wall. These gates do not provide nec-essary guarantee that farmers will have access to their land but instead it strengthens Israel’s system of permits and checkpoints. In total there are: 44 tunnels which connect 22 small ghettos inside 3 main ghettos; 34 fortified checkpoints and 634 checkpoints or other military obstructions and 1,661 km of settler-only roads that connect settlements and settlement blocks and complement the Wall system. These checkpoints act as a border crossing for Palestinians in order for them to move between towns. At these junctures, which form a technology of control, they are often made to wait unnecessarily, humiliated, sometimes detained or even beaten and shot by Israeli soldiers.
International Law vs Israeli Apartheid Wall
The United Nations
In 2003, the United Nations tried to pass a resolution which declared that the barrier was illegal where it deviates from the Green Line. The United States vetoed this decision, thus preventing any chances of the wall being torn down. A year later, the UN revisited the issue by passing Security Council Reso-lution 1544 which imposed an obligation on Israel to abide by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the 4th Geneva Conventions. Furthermore, the UN sought to gain an evaluation from the Inter-national Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the barrier.
The International Court of Justice
In 2004 he International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s construction of the Wall and its associated administrative regime violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The Court declared that the wall of apartheid was illegal and advised that it should be removed. It also re-quested Palestinian residents be compensated for any damage done and that other states should take serious action to ensure that the Israeli government persistently complies with the 4th Geneva Convention. Additionally, the International Court of Justice alluded to the illegal abuse, by the Israeli government, on basic Palestinian rights. These include the right to self-determination stipulating land confiscations, house demolitions, the creation of enclaves, and restrictions on movement and access to water, food, education, health care, work, and an adequate standard of living. Israel refused even to issue a statement on the Court’s ruling and disregarded its views.
The Apartheid Wall is not only illegal under international law, it is tantamount to annexation of occupied Palestinian land is another mechanism of oppression and of systematic theft of Palestinian land.