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West Bank Barrier

What is it?
The West Bank Barrier also known as The Security Wall/Fence (in Israel) and the Apartheid Wall (in Palestine) is a barrier which roughly separates parts of Israel from the Occupied West Bank. Israel began constructing the barrier in June of 2002 and it remains a work-in-progress. Its physical sense is hard to describe, quoting the BBC, “"The Thing", as one commentator has drolly called it, is in fact part-wall, part-fence. Most of its 670-kilometre (420-mile) length is made up of a concrete base with a five-metre-high wire-and-mesh superstructure. Rolls of razor wire and a four-metre-deep ditch are placed on one side. In addition, the structure is fitted with electronic sensors and has an earth-covered "trace road" beside it where footprints of anyone crossing can be seen.” Some of the structure is also a more traditional concrete wall with guard posts.

Why are the Israelis building it?
Israel's main reason for building the wall is security. Since 2000 and the beginning of the Second Intifada Israel has become more prone to attacks within its boarders, including several deadly attacks. One such attack killed 4 people, wounding hundreds of others in a shopping center, another killed 22 young people at a nightclub in Tel Aviv, yet another killed 15 in a pizza place in Jerusalem. With this background the Israeli government decided to take preventative measures to establish a more secure Israel. One of these measures was the design and building of the Israeli Security Fence. This fence would keep Palestinian terrorists out of Israel, keep snipers from firing upon Israeli highways and hence create a safer space for Israeli citizens.

Unfortunately while keeping terrorists and others with negative intentions out of Israel, Israel is also disrupting many Palestinian lives as well as enraging them with the building of what the Palestinians call an “Apartheid Wall”, to keep Palestinians and Israelis separated. In a very controversial move (even more so than just the building of the wall), the Israelis have not built the barrier does not follow the Green Line, a so called accepted boarder between Palestine and Israel. Instead, the wall veers into the occupied territories. This has separated Palestinians from other Palestinians, needed schools, hospitals and other service providers, and even farmers from their farm land. Furthermore, in some places other barriers create self-enclosed enclaves, so that it is extremely difficult to get in or out of these areas. In fact anywhere that the fence exists Palestinians have tremendous difficulty moving about. They cannot get to other parts of Palestine or parts of Israel. Palestinians have difficulty seeing their families, commuting to their jobs and gaining access to shops, medical care and more.

Legal Rulings
In 2004, at the request of the United Nations, The International Court of Justice ruled that the barrier is against international law and should be dismantled. Israel rejected this non-binding ruling. Citizens however have also challenged the legality of the barrier within the Israeli Court system. BBC news reported that “In June 2004 the Court ruled that a 30-km section of barrier northwest of Jerusalem imposed undue hardship on Palestinians and must be rerouted. The Supreme Court specifically said Israel had to limit Palestinian suffering, even if that meant accepting some restrictions on its ability to defend itself. It accepted that security was the reason for building the barrier. . . A second ruling in September 2005 ordered reconsideration of the route around Alfei Menashe, south of Qalqilya, where several Palestinian villages have been left stranded on the western, “Israeli" side of the fence, devastating the local economy. “

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