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Evolution: From Security Fence to Barrier to Ghetto Wall

10/27/2003

The thing, whatever it is called, that the Israeli government is building, began as a security fence along the green line supported by Israelis doves, and then evolved to a "barrier" that makes serious inroads into Palestinian territory, supported by Ariel Sharon's government. Last week, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv published what was supposedly the final map of the fence, a monstrosity that weaves in and out, lengthening the Israeli border and cutting Palestinians off from their livelihoods. It leaves many stranded between the fence and the rest of Palestinian territory, and requiring special permits just to get to their own homes. But the worst was yet to come, because it seems that the Sharon government will go ahead with plans to build more barriers deep inside Palestinian territory, chopping up the small Palestinian area into even smaller ghettos.

The Israeli government protests that the fence does not create a political border, but it creates an actual barrier that people cannot get through at all. Even worse, the fence, as many suspected is not a magic cure for terror attacks and thefts that have plagued Israel. According to the Ma'ariv article, 20 batallions will be needed to patrol this fence. This is a huge force by Israeli standards. It is impossible to imagine that this force will be maintained for any length of time. Eventually, the fence will keep out only innocent people going about their business, while those planning larceny or terror will have no trouble finding a way through.

Ami Isseroff



New York Times
October 25, 2003
Israel May Extend Barrier Deeper in West Bank
By GREG MYRE

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/25/international/middleeast/25MIDE.html

JERUSALEM, Oct. 24 - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said
Friday that Israel's military was working on a
proposal to extend a contentious West Bank barrier
with a section that could go into the Jordan Valley
near the border with Jordan.

Mr. Sharon's comments came as the Israeli Defense
Ministry published its first detailed map of where the
barrier is expected to run. Israel says the barrier,
made up of sections of electronic fence, concrete
walls and trenches and razor wire, is essential to
keep out Palestinian suicide bombers.

But as the barrier zigs and zags through the West
Bank, it will put tens of thousands of Palestinians on
the Israeli side, isolating them from other
Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Palestinians
have been fiercely critical of the plan, saying Israel
is unilaterally creating a de facto border and
confiscating Palestinian land.

The map released Friday is largely in line with plans
already announced by Mr. Sharon's government. However,
the map does not include an additional segment in the
Jordan Valley, a proposal that has been under
discussion for months.

"The route is being planned now. The moment it will be
completed, it will be presented to the government,"
Mr. Sharon said of the Jordan Valley proposal in a
television interview. The cabinet has approved other
sections of the barrier by large majorities.

Mr. Sharon insists the barrier is solely for security
and could be moved or taken down if the two sides
reach a future agreement on borders. However, any
additions to the barrier in the West Bank are sure to
further anger Palestinians.

The international community has been strongly critical
of the barrier, and even the United States, Israel's
strongest ally, has objected to the proposed route
because it cuts so far into the West Bank.

Israel says the barrier needs to go into the West Bank
to protect Jewish settlements, though not all of them
will be on the Israeli side. Extending the barrier
into the Jordan Valley would offer additional
protection to about 20 small, isolated settlements.

Meanwhile, violence continued on Friday.

Striking at night in a thick fog, a Palestinian gunman
cut through a wire fence and shot five Israeli
soldiers in a barracks, killing three and wounding two
in the most serious of several attacks in the Gaza
Strip.

Israeli troops and Palestinian militants have been
trading blows in Gaza almost daily, and Palestinians
described the shooting at Netzarim, a combined army
base and Jewish settlement, as a response to recent
Israeli military actions.

The shooting was unusual in that the gunman, Samir
Fouda, a 22-year-old member of Hamas, was able to pass
through the perimeter fence protecting Netzarim.

Palestinian gunmen have frequently fired on Israeli
soldiers and settlers on the road in and out of the
settlement, but they had not been able to get inside
the seaside enclave, where Israeli soldiers guard
about 300 settlers.

Heavy fog rolls in from the Mediterranean this time of
year, and it apparently helped the Palestinian gunman
traverse the sand dunes and reach Netzarim without
being detected.

Two of the dead soldiers were 19-year-old women, and
one of the wounded was also a woman. The soldiers were
in their barracks when the gunman struck at 4:30 a.m.,
and most or all were believed to be sleeping, a
military official said.

After the shooting. Mr. Fouda was fatally shot by
soldiers. An assailant from the Islamic Jihad faction
who had accompanied him did not get past the fence and
fled.

In the Jabaliya refugee camp on Friday, not far from
the Jewish settlement, thousands of Palestinians
cheered a Hamas leader, Nizar Rian, who called the
shooting a retaliation for Israeli military action.

"Our blood is not cheap and our operations will go on
until we return all of Palestine," Mr. Rian said. Mr.
Rian is a prominent Hamas leader who still appears in
public despite recent Israeli strikes aimed at senior
figures in the Islamic faction.

Nearby, at Mr. Fouda's home, his sister Amal Fouda
praised the shooting. "There is sadness," she said at
the loss of her brother. "But at the same time I am
very proud of this operation. I wish he killed more
than three."

In a videotape released to news organizations, Mr.
Fouda read from a statement and questioned why Arab
and Muslim leaders had not done more for the
Palestinians.

"You Muslim and Arab leaders, where are you?" he said.

The other Palestinian attacker with Mr. Fouda also
appeared in the video. But because he survived, his
face was blacked out to conceal his identity.

The joint attack by Hamas and Islamic Jihad followed a
pledge this week by the leaders of the factions to
coordinate their actions. The groups have carried out
most of the suicide bombings in Israel, but usually
act independently.

Israel did not say how it might respond, but the
Israeli military has hit hard at Palestinians in Gaza
recently. After Palestinian rocket attacks Sunday,
Israeli warplanes and helicopters carried out five
airstrikes on Monday in Gaza, killing more than 10
Palestinians and wounding dozens.

"There's an ongoing war on terror and it will
continue," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Mr. Sharon.

Meanwhile, Einat Osman, a sister of one of the slain
soldiers, Adi Osman, was critical of the way the
Israeli troops were being used in the Gaza Strip. A
large number of soldiers guard about 7,000 Jewish
settlers, who are vastly outnumbered by the 1.2
million Palestinians in the territory.

Ms. Osman said her sister wanted to be a combat
soldier, but was given little responsibility and had
little to do.

"Most of the time she sat in the room and watched
television," Ms. Osman told Israel radio. "She had
very little motivation and didn't know what she was
doing there."

Asked if the family was upset that Adi Osman had been
posted to Gaza, Ms. Osman said: "Of course we had a
problem with this. What are they there for? But Adi
wanted to be a fighter. She wanted to be useful."

Gaza was the scene of several other violent incidents
on Thursday night and Friday.

Palestinian medics said an 11-year-old boy, Muhammad
Hamaydah, was killed by Israeli gunfire on Friday in
central Gaza. Israeli military officials said they
were not aware of any shooting in the area.

Also, Palestinians fired three mortars on Friday at a
Jewish settlement in southern Gaza, causing minor
damage but no injuries.

On Thursday night, Israeli troops shot and killed a
Palestinian gunman in southern Gaza after he fired on
an Israeli car, lightly wounding three civilians, the
military said.

Troops also shot dead a Palestinian man who approached
a settlement in the north of Gaza.
* Balanced Middle East News *
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