Israeli Security Barrier ("Wall")-- Current Status (2005) and Evolution
March 10 2005
Note - Ma'ariv published the supposed final route of the security barrier on October 24 2003. Click here to see it in English translation. However, the route has since changed SEVERAL TIMES. The current route (March 2005) encompasses only 7% of the West Bank. The Eastern extension of the barrier shown below, that would have enclosed Palestinians in Bantustans has been cancelled, and the extension to include Ariel has not been approved.
Israel is building a security fence in the West Bank, while the Roadmap "peace process" continues. The fence was originally supposed to follow the green line 1948 border more or less and protect Israeli towns and villages from incursions by terrorists (click here for original proposed path). After the re-election of Ariel Sharon, the path of the fence change. Nobody knows how much it really changed, because no maps have been released. It is clear that the fence now "protects" some areas of the West bank that were once on the other side of the fence, cutting Palestinian villages off from their lands in some cases. A graver charge, that we cannot substantiate yet, is that the fence will completely enclose the Palestinian areas. Significantly, some new maps do not show the supposed "proposed" eastern parts of the fence, and the issue did not even arise in US - Israeli talks. In general, discussions about the fence have distracted attention from substantive issues as noted in MidEastWeb commentary.
As the Israeli-Palestinian peace process eroded, leaders of both Israeli political parties, having despaired of a political solution that would bring peace with the Palestinians, made several proposals for fences to be built along the green line (or "seam line") separating Israeli and Palestinian territory. The green line is the border of Israel as was established by the 1949 armistice agreements, before Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in the 6 day war in 1967. The green line is crossed by numerous dirt roads and it is impossible to patrol it. Many Palestinians take advantage of these roads to come to work illegally in Israel or to get between parts of the Palestinian administered territories without being subjected to the wearisome and degrading checkpoints. Some also cross in order to carry out terror operations and theft. Many opposed the fences either because of the mentality they represent or because they constitute a recognition of the 1949 armistice green line as a final border. Israelis living along the green line favor the fence to prevent infiltration by suicide bombers and by thieves and vandals. Since 1994, Palestinians, sometimes in cooperation with Israeli middlemen, have stolen thousands of automobiles as well as farm machinery and animals. Porous paths have made it easy for suicide bombers to cross into Israel.
The fence aroused opposition from right-wing Israelis and settlers, because it would "define" the route of the fence as the approximate border, and leave most of the settlements outside. The Palestine National Authority opposes t the fence as well. Palestinians oppose the fence because:
* It encloses Palestinian territory on the Israeli side, de - facto annexing it to Israel.
* It cuts people off from work, medical services and their fields
* In some places it runs through the middle of towns and in front of entrances of houses.
Opponents of the security barrier call it an "Apartheid Wall." It is mostly a chain-link fence, but makes use of prefabricated concrete slabs in built-up areas.
Israeli peace groups want the fence to be built along the 1949 Green Line armistice border. IDF security experts argue that the topography does not permit putting the barrier along the green line in many places, because there would be hills or tall buildings on the Palestinian side. In the Jerusalem area, the old border cut the city in two. The Old City of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount and Jewish quarter would be unprotected, and parts of the road to Jerusalem would lie on the other side of the barrier, as well as the Hebrew University campus at Mt. Scopus.
Demonstrations against the barrier have often been suppressed by the IDF with rubber bullets and other extreme force, though the demonstrations by Palestinians and by Israeli anarchists were non-violent. This lends an additional dimension to the problems associated with the barrier.
The Israel Ministry of Defense claims that fields and orchards blocked by the fence are replanted in accessible locations by the IDF, and that 60,000 olive trees have been replanted under this program.
In July of 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague gave an advisory (non-binding) ruling that declared the barrier violates international law, because its route does not take sufficient account of the suffering caused to Palestinians. The court further ruled that any part of the barrier built on the Palestinian side of the Green Line is illegal. Israel rejected the ICJ opinion. Nonetheless, the Israel High Court has ruled many sections of the barrier to be illegal because the route does not provide the proper balance between security needs and hardship to the population. This, along with US pressure, has caused the Israel government to revise the route of the barrier several times, including moving sections that were already built.
Click for updated Fence/Barrier/Wall Route Map - 2006 -
As of February 20, 2005, the following changes had been made relative to the original planning shown below:
* The barrier route had been moved closer to the green line border, so that only about 7% of West Bank territory was included in the area it encloses on the Israeli side. Claims that the fence encloses or controls larger areas of the West Bank are false. It does include a large number of Palestinians in urban areas in Jerusalem, who will still be on the Israel side of the fence.
* Plans for a "projected" eastern route that would have encircled the Palestinian cities have been dropped.
* Plans to extend the barrier to Ariel were put in abeyance.
The planned and completed barrier route still includes several large Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Efrat, Gush Etzion and Maaleh Edumim.
Some question however, whether it is now necessary to continue construction of the fence, since Palestinian terror attacks have greatly abated since the period in 2002 when the fence was begun.
Completed versus planned portions - Only the northern part of the barrier, above and partly around Jerusalem, exists as of March 2005.
The total length of the barrier is now given as 225 KM.
The red line shows the approved route in the map at right, but only part of that route has been completed.
According to the IDF:
Stage A, runs from Salem to Elkana, and around Jerusalem (in the northern and southern sections), was completed by the end of July 2003.
Stage B, running from Salem towards Bet- Shean, through the Jezreel Valley and the Gilboa mountains, approved in December 2002, was completed in 2004.
Mysterious features - One leg of the barrier extends to Beitar Eilit and stops there mysteriously. At the south west extremity (bottom left corner of the map there is an unexplained loop in the route that surrounds something with a completely solid fence line. It is not clear what this is for.
Explanation of Legend
Route of Aug 2003 - Refers to previous revision.
Spec. Sec. Area - Special Security Area - (Ezor Bitachon Meyuchad) (in an English language map, it was translated as "Special Security Arrangement") the meaning is not explained in the source, but it is the area supposedly vital for protection of security of Ben-Gurion Airport. It is the area indicated by the red S and arrow head north of Kir. Sefer in the map. Near Ariel there are also some of these.
Canceled In-Depth - "Canceled in-depth fence route." A section of the barrier that was to be built east of Kalkilia and the canceled section running from the main fence to Ramallah, south of Kiriath Sefer and north of route 443. A third section is just east of Area C in the Nablus area and was meant to be part of an eastern barrier perhaps.
Pending Staff work - Officially designated " Pending completion of detailed staff work." In an English language map it was called - "Route subject to completion of further interministerial Examination." Section of the barrier around Ariel which is referred to in the Hebrew map as "trajectory pending completion of detailed 'Ama"t'. This part of the fence has not been approved at present. Israel undertook not to extend the barrier to Ariel following US pressure.
The map has been translated and adapted from: The Israel Ministry of Defense
A larger map in English with the same information approximately has since appeared here
Evolution of the Barrier Route and Rumors about the Route
Many older maps of the fence route, based on previous routes and on unfounded rumors, exist on the Web and are shown in media presentations, especially by opponents of the barrier. The follow are some of the earlier maps and some detail areas.
An early supposed map of the projected fence was originally published by Gush Shalom (right). That map did not differentiate between the planned areas of the fence and projections by Palestinian sources. See http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/ for the Gush Shalom article. The map is based on Palestinian sources. It was used by Gush Shalom and is being used by Electronic Intifada to support the claim that Israel intends to enclose the Palestinians in ghettos or Bantustans in the West Bank, surrounded by a wall. Since that time the eastern part of the barrier was canceled, but media reports consider to show maps like this one.
At one time there was a plan to cut Qalqiliah off from the rest of the West bank, as shown at lower right. This plan was abandoned because of pressure from peace groups and the US.
The "balloons" created by Ariel and the "Talmonim block" lengthened the fence considerably and made it more difficult to patrol. Palestinians and rights groups expressed concerns that gateways in the fence that are supposed to allow free passage to farmers so that they can get to their lands, will not be ready on time or perhaps will never open. Of course, the fence creates a de-facto border in areas that will make it difficult to form a viable Palestinian state. The Israeli case for the fence is that it is preventing terrorist incursions such as the wave of suicide bombings in 2002, which originated in West Bank refugee camps.
With thanks to Carol Greenspan and other members of MidEastWebDialog forum.
The above text is copyright 2005, by MidEastWeb for Coexistence and the author.
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