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Palestinians: Fenced into Limbo - Gidon Remba

02/08/2004

Until reading the article in the Jerusalem Report ("Zoned Out") (see below), and David Makovksy's forthcoming article in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs "How to Build a Fence," I had accepted at face value B'Tselem's claim that the fence as it is now being built by Israel, will annex about 100,000 Palestinians to the Israeli side in enclaves between the fence and the Green Line.

Israel's Ministry of Defense says this is not correct at all, and that the true number will be about 11,000 in 32 Palestinian villages, and this number is also the one cited by Makovsky. But APN Policy Director Mark Rosenblum points out that this number too is misleading: it does not include the 210,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem who are left on the Israeli side of the fence, or the 120,000 additional Palestinians who, according to unofficial estimates, have immigrated into East Jerusalem from the West Bank fearing that they would be left cut off on the Palestinian side of the fence. This last is an astonishing number--it means that East Jerusalem's Palestinian population has just increased by more than 50%--to some degree, maybe largely, due to the fence.

B'Tselem and the UN's estimates of the much larger number of Palestinians who will suffer serious hardship from even this fence route--in the hundreds of thousands--remains accurate, or at least not far off. Makovsky does believe Israel should take many more steps to offset this hardship--but so far the fence is materializing and nowhere near enough of the measures Israel could take to relieve Palestinian hardship are being realized. The Jerusalem Report article below does indicate that Israel is building a $2 million underpass out of Qalqilya beneath the barrier, but it's hard at this point to see whether and to what extent this will improve things.

Makovsky's data also show that the fence will incorporate 14.5% of West Bank land to Israel, leaving 85.5% of the West Bank for a Palestinian state. In general, I think Makovksy seriously underestimates the negative impact on Palestinians of the fence he advocates, and the problems it will cause for Israel. This includes his failure to note the difference in international impact between building a fence more or less along the proposed Geneva Accord border (i.e.., the Green Line with minor modifications) and the line on which Israel is building it: were Israel building close to the Green Line throughout the route, the path of the fence would likely gain international acceptance, and the International Court in the Hague would be highly unlikely to rule against Israel. But the route which annexes 14.5% of the West Bank to Israel will likely lead to a ruling against Israel at the court, and may prompt unilateral economic sanctions against Israel by some states, even if that measure doesn't pass the UN Security Council. The Gaza fence was built along an internationally accepted border--the Green Line--as was the fence between Lebanon and Israel, a difference Makovsky also ignores.

The most useful part of Makovsky's article are two pages which show comparisons of four proposed fenced borders:

1) The current fence route ("the Ministry of Defense--MOD--Fence"), 2) the "Encirclement Fence"--also known as the eastern fence, which the Israel Government approved in 2002 but for which it has not allocated funds or engaged in any planning to build, and which many believe will not be built; 3) the Clinton Parameters (which are similar to Israel's Taba proposal), and 4) the Geneva Accord.

One page offers the above four borders depicted in maps--this is an indispensable reference tool; the other contains a table comparing these plans on four axes, also an indispensable reference tool, even if not all the figures are fully accurate:

A) number of Palestinians on the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the proposed fenced border B) number of Israelis on the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the proposed fenced border C) percent of West Bank land on each side of the proposed fenced border; D) number of Israeli settlements and Palestinian villages on each side of the proposed fenced border.

The Encirclement or Bantustan Fence

What Makovsky calls the "Encirclement Fence", or western fence plus the eastern fence which would encircle the Palestinians into what Makovsky also recognizes would be Bantustans, or cantons, leaving the remaining enclaves for an unviable Palestinian state, is the fence that many Palestinians are now criticizing--including most recently our friend Ray Hanania (in the Daily Herald), without noting that this fence is not currently being built or even planned by Israel. Frequent references in the press to how the current fence route cuts "deeply" into the West Bank only obscure the differences between the actual planned fence now under construction by the Ministry of Defense and the Encirclement Fence. Makovsky explains why Israel does not need an eastern fence, or the Jordan Valley which it is intended to annex to Israel, for security reasons, by reminding us of the removal of any threat of invasion from Iraq, of Israel's peace treaty with Jordan, and Syria's obsolete military, which all amount to the neutralizing of any serious security threat from the East that would necessitate Israel's retaining the Jordan Valley. Moreover, it does appear that international pressure has succeeded in halting the construction of some of the more problematic annexationist elements even of the MOD fence, which account for much of the 14.5% annexation of Palestinian territory under the current planned MOD fence. Yuli Tamir notes that Israel stopped building the portion of the fence that would annex the Israeli settlement of Ariel to Israel when Condi Rice picked up the phone and called Sharon. And Ehud Ya'ari notes in "Marking Time, Regressively," Jerusalem Report, 2/9/04:

"The security fence Israel is building will not be constructed according to the original route dictated by Prime Minister Sharon. Toward the summer, if work continues at the current pace, the wire curtain will stretch around the northern West Bank as far as Jerusalem roughly along the Green Line, without taking in Ariel and the large settlements of western Samaria as Sharon decreed. The portion of the fence that is meant to seal in Gush Etzion from the south is on hold, awaiting developments at the international court in The Hague. The rest of the southern fence is at any rate less crucial, and can wait."

And Ha'aretz reports (08/02/2004) in "J'lem source: Fence route to be moved closer to Green Line": "The route of the separation fence will be shortened by moving it westward toward the Green Line and eliminating most of the loops planned around Palestinian villages, according to a senior source in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, told a group of Mideast experts last week that he believes the final fence route will be about 600 kilometers long, or 100 kilometers shorter than the one approved by the government."

The Geneva Fence, the Current Fence and Promoting Negotiations vs. Violence

Makovsky's tables helpfully show how the Geneva border would annex 0 Palestinians and 0 Palestinian villages to Israel, and only 1.5% of the West Bank (which is compensated for in a land swap), whereas the current Ministry of Defense (MOD) fence annexes 14.5% and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the villages left in the enclaves between the fence and the Green Line (see the excellent Jerusalem Report article below for more on this). Makovsky claims that the current fence route creates an incentive to the Palestinians to negotiate--but it's hard to see how this could be so. It's true, as he notes, that if the fence helped reduce terrorist attacks on Israelis, as it will even in its current planned route, it could make peace talks more likely. But this would be at least equally true if the fence were built more or less along the proposed Geneva border. Makovsky's claim that building a fence near the Green Line will only encourage Palestinian violence does not hold water. He writes that "retreating to the pre-1967 border (the Green Line) would virtually guarantee that the Palestinians will resort to violence in future disputes with Israel." This claim is doubly wrong. First, because Israel should build the fence not on the Green Line, but on a line that could gain international legitimacy, and mutual acceptance by majorities on both sides, as the basis of a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict. That reinforces confidence in diplomacy, not in violence. Second, if Palestinian militants would draw this conclusion--that violence pays--about Israel's building the fence along the Geneva border, they will also draw this conclusion just as readily about Israel's building it along the current route which Makovsky champions, and from the attendant loss of legitimacy which both fence routes confer on all the Israeli settlements remaining on the Palestinian side, which is prompting prominent Israelis like Deputy PM Ehud Olmert to advocate unilaterally removing most settlements from the West Bank, and Sharon to propose the same for nearly all the settlers in Gaza (who, by the way, are also on the Palestinian side of the fence!). So if unilateral measures like the fence, and ultimately Israeli relocation of settlers and of the IDF from the West Bank and Gaza, represent a net gain to Israel's security and its political and moral position, then the benefits any fence route--whether the current line or the Geneva route--outweigh the negative impact of unilateralism from Palestinian militants' belief in violence's vindication, but the Geneva route offsets that loss even more than does the current path.

Makovsky objects to the view that "the best way to give Palestinians an incentive to fight terror is to delineate in advance the terms of a final-status deal," claiming that this strategy is "unlikely to succeed," but his own arguments against it are unpersuasive. He notes that "it should be recalled that the current intifada broke out when the terms for a final-status deal were presented." After citing Palestinian rejectionism among Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions, and the fact that "the Palestinian leadership has not laid the intellectual groundwork for recognizing the moral legitimacy of Israel," and the difficulty for the PA of disarming the terror groups, he concludes that "it seems unlikely that any agreed-upon security terms would be enforced by the Palestinians, even after maximum Israeli concessions were obtained. This is problematic for several reasons.

First, with regard to the claim the intifada broke out when the terms for a final-status deal were presented--that Makovsky makes this claim with a straight face while ignoring all its problems is truly breathtaking. It ignores the significant differences between the unacceptable offers which Barak and Clinton made at Camp David on Jerusalem and territory--e.g., no Palestinian sovereignty in most of East Jerusalem, or over the Temple Mount/Haram a-Sharif or the Old City, and noncontiguous West Bank territory divided up by larger Israeli settlement blocs, plus Israeli retention on a leased basis of the Jordan Valley, and Israeli control over the roads between the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley--versus the offers made at Taba, and now at Geneva, which we know are a mutually acceptable basis for an agreed solution, suffering from none of these fatal defects, especially on the issues of territory, borders, settlements, and Jerusalem. Second, it ignores the way in which Barak went about "negotiating" at Camp David, which made it highly unlikely that the process would succeed; compare that to the negotiation process which the Israeli and Palestinian delegations underwent over a period of two years until they reached agreement on the Geneva terms. Third, Barak's offers at Camp David were not only far too unfavorable to the Palestinians to have led to agreement, and his negotiation strategy helped promote this outcome, even if unintentionally, but these were also offers which were regarded as not having great credibility in light of Israel's continuing settlement building under Barak and during the Oslo years.

This last defect of the Oslo and Camp David approach to peacemaking is remedied in Geneva and the Road Map, if it were followed properly and enforced by the US. The Road Map recognizes that you can't build or maintain the confidence needed on both sides for successful negotiations if the PA isn't fighting terror and if Israel is allowing settlement outposts to proliferate, and not freezing settlement growth in the "official" settlements. And Geneva addresses this by making clear that all Israeli settlers on the Palestinian side of the fence that would be built today along its agreed border will be removed in the final stage of the process, while all terror groups will be fully disarmed by this point and only a single unified state Palestinian security force will remain under international supervision. And it demonstrates that this is not just empty rhetoric by its proponents' insistence that the Road Map terms be enforced and followed now with regard to settlement outposts, settlement freeze and the removal of regular settlements, and seriously beginning the disarmament of terror groups, during the first two phases of the Road Map. We build the fence now along something like the Geneva line, and at the same time we coordinate Israeli anti-settlement and Palestinian anti-terror steps so that it's clear to both sides that they will gain what they seek from this process and in a reasonably short interval--security for Israelis, viable statehood and independence for Palestinians. Would the PA be willing and able to disarm Hamas and other terror groups under these conditions? Alas, we'll never know. This approach has not been tried at all, and it's clear that Bush has no intention of doing so, certainly not this year, if at all. The absence of real diplomacy and US engagement in Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking is a primary reason why Israeli unilateralism is triumphing over negotiations, why terrorists will conclude that violence, not negotiation, works, and why Israel's security is not what it could be, with a unilaterally imposed fence instead of a fence along a route to which the Palestinian Authority and its security forces would agree, and on which renewed Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation could be anchored. See my analysis of IDF (res.) Maj-Gen Ya'akov Amidror's essay, "Israel's Security: The Hard-Earned Lessons," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2004, in my "Negotiating Israel's Security Fence" , which supports this view. Amidror wrote:


"While most see no need for a bilateral agreement regarding the fence--after all, it can be built unilaterally, as is currently the case--few take into account that unilateralism is a two-way street. It frees the other side to take certain actions that may be deleterious to Israel's security interests. In this respect, Israel's security would be significantly enhanced if it could reach agreement with the Palestinian side on construction of the fence. Such an agreement might commit Palestinians to take action to prevent, or at least not assist, efforts to destroy the fence and may even win Palestinian commitment to certain security measures that inhibit infiltration. Of course, such an agreement with the Palestinians would come at a price."


Security Benefits of a Fence

Setting aside considerations of route, I am in full agreement with Makovsky's defense of the fence in principle and his elaboration of its security benefits: he cites the fact that there have been no successful suicide terror attacks from Tulkarm or Qalqilya since the fence around those areas went up--but as Yuli Tamir points out, and Makovsky ignores, one could achieve the same security benefit for Israel without encircling Qalqilya on all sides with fence and wall--whereas before the fence and walls went up in those areas there were many suicide attacks on nearby Israeli towns--e.g., the three successful suicide attacks on Netanya whose perpetrators came from Tulkarm, just seven miles away, including the devastating Park Hotel Pesach 2002 attack which triggered Israel's reoccupation and invasion of area A, the Palestinian cities in the West Bank, including Jenin and Ramallah ("Operation Defensive Shield"). Moreover, he cites Defense Minister Mofaz's statement that the number of attempted infiltrations from the areas of the West Bank where the fence has been completed is one-twentieth of what it was before the fence was built.

Makovsky does advocate dismantling Israeli settlements east of the fence, but he doesn't spell out when and under what terms, asking only that Sharon remove all the outposts and freeze settlement growth in the regular settlements. All in all, Makovsky doesn't present a persuasive argument for the current fence route, just for a fence in principle, overlooking all the reasons why the best fence for Israel--for security, economic, political and international reasons--as well as for the Palestinians, would be close to the proposed Geneva lines.

Doni Remba
President
Chicago Peace Now

Palestinian Affairs: Zoned Out

Isabel Kershner

January 26, 2004 JERUSALEM REPORT

In the tiny West Bank enclave of Khirbet Jubara, between the fence and the Green Line, residents scoff at Israel's security effort

Azmi Damiri lives on the fence. Together with 12 family members, including six children, he inhabits a large, somewhat isolated house up a hill in the West Bank, south of Tul Karm. The residence literally hugs Israel's recently erected security barrier, so much so that Damiri and his white Subaru have special permission to nip through a gap in a barbed wire coil at the edge of the nearest village and shoot along the military patrol road that makes up part of the fence's security system in order to access his front door.

He spends much of his day driving relatives here and there, for schooling, shopping and other daily necessities. And he has a penchant for driving fast. He probably doesn't want to push his luck with the soldiers who sweep by periodically in jeeps. After all, the whole purpose of the separation fence is to stop Palestinian suicide bombers from making their way into Israel; any young soldier unfamiliar with Damiri's special circumstances could easily mistake him for a terrorist illegally on the move.

Damiri's house, like the village, is situated on the western, Israeli-controlled side of the barrier, which at this point runs two to three kilometers inside the West Bank territory. The Damiris, along with another 350 residents of the hamlet of Khirbet Jubara, now find themselves in a pocket between the fence -- or as all Palestinians insist on calling it, the wall -- and the Green Line, the pre-1967 border with Israel. This gives them the dubious distinction of being pioneers of the new frontier, dubbed by Israeli security authorities as the "Seam Zone," or as they see it, virtual prisoners in a tiny enclave of no-man's land with free access to nowhere.

The only other community inside this pocket is the Jewish settlement of Salit, home to around 400 souls. The Palestinians in the enclave are enclosed by the fence to the north, south and east, their movement in any of these directions dependent on the army's permission to pass through a series of checkpoints and gates. Traveling west over the open country and crossing the invisible Green Line would be to take a perilous risk of arrest on suspicion of entering Israel illegally. From Khirbet Jubara, without a permit, the only way is up.

With the first 125-kilometer-long stage of the security barrier completed this summer, around 11,000 Palestinians in some 15 communities have already found themselves stuck in such enclaves, between the fence and the Green Line. B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, claims that by the time the rest of the separation fence is completed along the southern route recently approved by the government, that number will rise to over 100,000.

In addition, Palestinian anti-wall lobbyists and human rights organizations point to tens of thousands more Palestinians whose daily lives are already directly affected by the security barrier. These include over 38,000 residents of Qalqilyah, a city abutting the Green Line that is almost hermetically sealed on all sides by stretches of 8-meter-high concrete wall in some parts, and in others by the fence, with only one entry and exit checkpoint to the east; 74,000 residents of Tul Karm, its two refugee camps and surrounding villages, all of which are separated from Israel by stretches of wall and fence, and which are now, according to U.N. and other maps based on land seizure orders, slated to be closed in from the east by a secondary "depth barrier"; and thousands more Palestinians in a further 36 communities just east of the main barrier who are separated from their lands or services in communities now lying on the other side of the fence, with access through gates that soldiers have to come to open and close.

By B'Tselem's count, in the end, a total of 665,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, or nearly 30 percent of the population, will in some way be adversely affected by the separation fence, and that's not including the 210,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem, most of whom will be cut off from the Palestinian hinterland, while the others will be separated from the city -- and country -- of which they are residents by virtue of Israel's 1967 annexation.

Israeli officials dispute these figures. So far, the areas lying between the fence and the Green Line constitute only 1.7 percent of the West Bank, notes Netzah Mashiah, director of the Defense Ministry's Seam Zone Authority. Mashiah denies that any secondary depth barriers are even being planned -- "not a fence or anything else" -- and points out that Israel is funding an 8.5-million-shekel (almost $2-million) underpass leading out of Qalqilyah beneath the barrier and south to Habla.

Moreover, international heat has already led to changes in the route of the barrier north of Tul Karm, at Baqa al-Sharqiyah. Within weeks, a wall will be completed on the Green Line between Baqa al-Sharqiyah and its sister town of Baqa al-Gharbiyah that lies just inside Israel. Its construction required the demolition of a number of illegally built houses in a residential area linking the two, a process that took some time. Once the wall is finished, the eastern fence, currently separating Baqa al-Sharqiyah, a town of 7,500, from the rest of the West Bank, will come down. That will leave only 3,500 Palestinians in enclaves west of the fence for now.

Officials won't say how many Palestinians will eventually end up in the enclaves. "It depends on the final route," says Mashiah. But Col. Dany Tirza, the IDF's head of operations on the fence project, says "you can drop a zero" from B'Tselem's figure of 100,000. Other sources have heard a figure of 15,000 from the Defense Ministry.

Tirza adds that the only reason the fence was placed east of Khirbet Jubara was to give the army the operational margin it needs, since the village is so close to the Arab Israeli town of Taibah across the Green Line. Without some room for maneuver, any Palestinian crossing the fence illegally could instantly disappear in the town.

Whateve the case, both Azmi Damiri and the residents of Khirbet Jubara have the distinct impression that Israel would rather see them go. "We are sure that Israel wants to push us out," says Faruq Awad, one of the village council representatives. "There is no work, we cannot move freely and the authorities have even refused us permission for a water tank here."

The Ramallah-based PLO Negotiations Affairs Department speaks of Israeli "de facto annexation" of the land between the wall and the Green Line, and of an Israeli attempt to "cleanse" these areas of their Palestinian population. Damiri, for one, has a demolition order against his house pending since last September 27, on the grounds that he built illegally on land zoned for agriculture. The case is still in court.

And as of early October, the army Central Command declared the seam zone between the fence and the Green Line a "closed military area" for an unlimited period of time, making entry and residence for the Palestinian residents conditional upon their holding a special "green permit" issued by the civil administration. At first the inhabitants of Khirbet Jubara rebelled. "We refused to have to take a permit to go to our own homes. What if they decide one day to take the permission away?" says Awad, noting that the pass includes a printed clause specifically stating that it doesn't guarantee any legal right to permanent residency or ownership of property.

In late December, the army won. Residents of the village who had gone to Tul Karm were not allowed to cross the checkpoint back; after being stuck for two days, the residents decided to take the permits, which were issued for one year.

About 25 people in the village had previously been refused a permit by the army, apparently on security grounds, even though the only criterion for qualifying for one is supposed to be residency in the zone. One of those refused, Mustafa Tahina, 34, the imam of the local mosque, says he spent 1988-89 in prison "for throwing stones during the first intifada." As part of the "green permit" deal struck with the rest of the village, the "security cases" all got passes in the end, though they are valid for a shorter period of three months.

B'Tselem researcher Yehezkel Lein says that one of the concerns is that the permit system will be exploited for "ulterior motives."

Meanwhile Khirbet Jubara residents say they've heard that acres of land between their village and Sal'it have been appropriated for a Jewish settlement. Asked about the rumors, Lein produces an April 2002 map from his office files, drawn up by the Defense Ministry's Seam Zone Authority. Curiously, the area between Sal'it and Jubara, now all open fields, is marked in felt-tip as a ghost settlement called "Ya'arit."

But if any Israelis were hoping that the residents of Khirbet Jubara would throw up their hands at the impossible situation they find themselves in, pick up and move over the fence, they're wrong. Damiri bought land and started building his house here in 1990, after bringing up his family in a one-room dwelling in the Tul Karm refugee camp. He arrived there from Haderah in 1948, aged two. "It's like history repeating itself," he says with a wry smile. "Where will they move us to next? The sun?"

Awad came back to Khirbet Jubara after 19 years in Kuwait, having been chased out with all the Palestinians there after the reconquest following Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion. "I've built a house, raised a family here," he says. "This is everything I have in the world."

Precarious as life in the enclave may seem, Khirbet Jubara is fast becoming a symbol of the new sumud, the steadfastness in the face of adversity that has almost become the Palestinians' second name.

There is nothing imposing or even quaint about Khirbet Jubara. You could almost drive through without noticing the few low-rise houses, chicken coops and neglected hothouses that three hamulas, or clans, call home.

There are 98 children in the village who find themselves in a particular quandary: Khirbet Jubara has no schools. While 10 of them attend high school in Tul Karm, most of the children, from first grade up, have always gone to learn in the neighboring villages of Al-Ras, Kafr Zibad and Kafr Sur, all of which now sit on the other side of the fence. The only way to school and back is through Gate 753, the "school children's gate," that soldiers come and open three times a day at what are supposed to be set hours.

On a recent Tuesday morning, an army jeep idles by the gate for an hour before a mid-day batch of first to third graders arrives. As soon as their yellow mini-bus (funded by Israel) is seen winding its way down from Kafr Sur at 11.50, the jeep speeds away. The children pile out of the bus, accompanied by their school principal, Nazmia Zibdeh, a resident of Khirbet Jubara. And they wait. "It depends on the mood of the soldiers," Zibdeh asserts. "You can wait half an hour, an hour, an hour and a half." Everybody speaks about the day when it poured in November and the children stood in the pelting rain for two hours.

Soon, the girls are playing hopscotch and the boys are climbing on anything they can, throwing stones into a pit, shaking the gate and tweaking the electronic sensors in the hope that the soldiers will hurry up. "We can wait here for ages, and we've got nothing to eat!" complains Hussam, 7. "We feel like we're in prison," adds classmate Anwar, pressing her face up to the bars.

In this case, with a clearly visible UNICEF vehicle standing by to observe, another army jeep returns with the key within 10 minutes. Two armed soldiers saunter over. One banters in Arabic with the children for a while and warns them not to play with the sensors again, on pain of being sent back, and finally instructs the other to open the gate.

When there is a full security closure, usually imposed by the army after a terrorist attack in Israel or when there is hard intelligence of an impending one, the gates and checkpoints don't open at all. Since the beginning of September, residents say, 15 school days have been lost to closures.

A request by the residents of Jubara to build a primary school for grades 1 through 4 in the village has been turned down by Israel. In the meantime, UNICEF has reached an agreement with the army for an interim solution: to erect two tents on either side of the gate so that the children can at least be protected from the elements.

The adults of the village complain of 90 percent unemployment. Awad lost his job selling tiles in Tul Karm because the closures made him an unreliable employee. Misbah Odeh, a father of eight, used to drive a taxi to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan, but he was replaced in September. The story repeats itself throughout the village. And while many of the families have some land or hothouses to live off, they hesitate against making any investment in seeds and water, again fearing that the closures will prevent them from getting their produce to market.

"We live on savings and share around what we have," Awad explains.

When it is pointed out to the residents of Khirbet Jubara that they may be victims of the fence, but its purpose is to prevent more terminal victims from murderous Palestinian suicide bombings, the reactions border on derision.

"A security wall? I don't think so," says Damiri. "I see young men jumping over it from my window all the time."

Sensors and security cameras monitor every movement in the area of the fence. Col. Tirza says that there have been 22 cases of Palestinians sneaking across the fence between Tul Karm and Kafr Sur, and that all have been caught -- proving the need for the operational space. But the residents claim others seem to get across with impunity.

Marc Luria, spokesman for Security Fence for Israel, a lobbying and watchdog organization headed by ex-general Uzi Dayan, says "that would only be possible if the army is ignoring it" -- and goes on to suggest there are already signs of problems in maintaining security along the barrier. Luria notes that after Israeli and foreign anarchists cut a hole in the fence in a late December protest, he went to check the spot a few days later, and found the hole still there. (An Israeli demonstrator was shot and injured by a soldier during the demonstration.) Tirza says that a private contractor is supposed to fix holes the same day.

While Israeli security officials insist that the fence is already proving itself in preventing attacks, it clearly cannot offer any 100 percent guarantees. The female suicide bomber who blew up Haifa's Maxim restaurant in early October entered Israel through a farmer's gate in the fence at Barta, to the north.

"If Israel wants to live in peace, it should give the Palestinians their rights, not put them in jail," Awad remarks.

On the first day of 2004, New Year's Day, I call Awad on his cell phone from Jerusalem. That morning, he says, the villagers woke up to a full closure. "Nobody can come in or out of Jubara today," he states, adding that even an ambulance called for a sick 40-year-old resident of the village had not been allowed in from Tul Karm. Awad was about to accompany the patient to the checkpoint and "let the soldiers see him" in the hope that something could be done. Jubara itself has no clinic, no doctor, not even a trained midwife or nurse.

"Call me any time, you're welcome," he signs off. After all, the airwaves are always open.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Both the so-called West Bank and the Gaza Strip belong to Israel. Come on, 5alas.

Posted by Someone @ 02/09/2004 09:25 AM CST


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