West Bank wall still defies World CourtFour years after the ruling of the International Court of Justice at The Hague was handed down, Israel’s West Bank “separation barrier”—derided by critics as the “apartheid wall”—has not been moved or dismantled in any of the sections that were held to be in breach international law, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a press release July 9. B’Tselem reiterated its call for the Israeli government to dismantle every section of the barrier that penetrates the West Bank, cancel the travel permits regime that is part of the barrier project, and compensate the Palestinians who were harmed as a result of the barrier’s construction.
In the intervening years, Israel’s High Court has continued to issue rulings delineating the sections of the barrier that are in contravention of international law. These sections are currently: around the settlement Alfe Menashe, nullified Sept. 15, 2005; on the village lands of Azzun Atma and An Nabi Elyas, nullified June 15, 2006; and the section by Bil’in, nullified on Sept. 6, 2007. The residents of Bil’in recently received the Israeli army’s proposed changed route.
As of May 2008, 409 kilometers of the barrier, 57% of the planned route, have been built; 66 kilometers (9%) are under construction; construction on the remaining 248 kilometers (34%) has not begun. Upon completion of the barrier, 11.9% of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), will lie west of the barrier or be surrounded completely or partially by the barrier. The areas annexed by the route of the wall are home to 498,000 Palestinians (222,500 in East Jerusalem) living in 92 towns and villages. The planned barrier route also annexes 60 Israeli settlements (including 12 in East Jerusalem), with a total population of 381,000.
B’Tselem states: “The state of Israel has the right and duty to protect its citizens and residents from terrorist attacks. However, if it wants to build a physical barrier between it and the West Bank, according to the courts, it must be built along the Green Line or inside its territory.” (Ma’an News Agency, July 9)