Explanation: the security barrier in the West Bank and its shortcomings

In 2002, Israel began building a security barrier across the West Bank, a barrier still riddled with holes

Last month, Israeli engineers began working on patching breaches in the West Bank security fence after a terrorist breached the fence and killed five people in the ultra-Orthodox Israeli town of Bnei Brak.

Israeli officials suspect an assailant who shot dead three people in Tel Aviv did the same.

A steady stream of commuters can be seen climbing through holes in the fence each day, according to The Guardianon their way to work in illegal construction, cleaning and agricultural jobs in Israeli cities.

How did we get here ?

In 2002, Israel faced a disastrous security situation: the Second Intifada.

From 2000 until 2005, the Intifada (which translates to “uprising”) saw a wave of terrorist attacks targeting Israelis with assailants originating from the West Bank. In March 2002 alone, around 130 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed in Palestinian attacks.

In response, in June 2002, the Israeli cabinet approved the construction of the barrier as a security measure.

The Israeli Defense Ministry noted, “The fact that more than 800 men, women and children have been killed in horrific suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks clearly justifies the attempt to place a physical barrier in the path of terrorists.

In 2003, 112 miles were covered and in 2004 Israel started the southern part of the barrier.

It proved effective and suicide attacks decreased.

Israeli officials quoted in Maariv said that in areas where the barrier was complete, the number of hostile infiltrations had dropped to almost zero. Not for lack of attempts, but because the security barrier prevented terrorists from reaching Israeli towns, forcing people to take roads where they would be captured by Israeli forces.

To date, only around 62-65% of the planned route of the barrier has been completed, with some sections consisting of large concrete slabs and others metal fencing that is easier to circumvent.

When completed, the wall will run a total of 440 miles, with 15% of the length passing through the Green Line – the pre-1967 ceasefire line that delimits Israel from the West Bank – and the remaining 85% through inside the West Bank.

Some sections stretch 13 miles into Palestinian territory, dividing communities and forcing farmers to obtain Israeli permits to work, The Guardian reported.

According to a 2005 United Nations report: “The land between the barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently home to 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.”

However, the longer the barrier, the more difficult it is to manage.

“Every time we closed a breach in the fence, the next day there was a breach 100 or 200 meters away,” a defense official said in an interview with Ha’aretz.

The Guardian visited five points along a 22-mile stretch of the barrier, where holes were drilled in the fence. All of the gaps were large enough for adults to comfortably pass through, some next to checkpoints and visible cameras.

According to the news site, some of those who crossed the gaps said they had valid permits, but the gaps were quicker and easier than queuing at official checkpoints.

Video poster

Violations have a purpose, both for those who commit them and for Israel.

Palestinians working illegally in Israel earn around $470 million a year, Ha’aretz reported, citing Israeli defense officials. This money, if cut, could economically collapse the Palestinian Authority.

“If a third intifada develops, it will be because of economic distress, a situation where they have no food in the refrigerator for their children and nothing to get up in the morning,” the official said. defense. Ha’aretz.

The barrier has also come under heavy criticism from Palestinians and international NGOs.

Many say the hardships imposed by the barrier will engender further discontent among the Palestinian population, perhaps aggravating the security problem rather than solving it.

Hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli activists gathered every week between 2005 and 2010 to protest the barrier in the city of Bil’in.

However, a survey conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, an academic research institution of Tel Aviv University, found that there was overwhelming support for the barrier among Jewish Israelis: 84% in March 2004 supported the barrier and 78% in June. 2004.

In December 2003, an emergency special session was held by the United Nations General Assembly, adopting a resolution which included a request for the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on the question: “What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall built by Israel?”

The court found that the barrier violated international law and also said that Israel must repair the damage caused. He also said the UN General Assembly and Security Council should consider what steps should be taken “to put an end to the illegal situation” created by the barrier.

After the vote, the representative of Israel expressed his appreciation for the countries that had voted against the measure and those that had “tried to introduce some semblance of balance into the text”.

Video poster