Today is the first day of the Global Week of Action Against the Apartheid Wall. We will be participating in this weeks actions. You can read the campaign statement here. First, some information about the wall.
The Wall or “Separation Barrier”, is not actually a barrier that separates Israel and the Occupied Territories, but a massive construction, 8 metres tall and equipped with guard towers and razor wire. Rather than sitting on the Green Line, the wall cuts deep into the West Bank, itself. In fact 85% of the wall is located in the West Bank. When the Wall is finished, it will be about 810km long and will result in the de-facto annexation of 46% of the Occupied West Bank.Already, in the Wall’s “first phase” some 14,680 dunums have been confiscated and razed for the path of the Wall; and over 102,000 trees have been uprooted. Many of which were olive trees, which are extremely valuable to Palestinian farmers and their families. The wall is an obvious attempt to seize more territory, for Israeli Settlers, 98% of which will be included in the de-facto annexed areas.
The Wall violates Palestinians’ rights to Freedom of Movement and creates Ghettos. Palestinians in the West Bank find themselves cut off from their lands and surrounded by the wall, settlements or settler-only roads. This has the affect of creating a network of Ghettos, with very limited access to the outside world and to the basic services which communities require in order to live in a dignified manner.
According to the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories:
“Qalqiliya, a city with a population of 40,000, is completely surrounded by the Wall and residents can only enter or leave through a single military checkpoint open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.”
The Wall violates Palestinians’ rights to property. Because of the Wall many Palestinians find themselves unable to reach cultivatable land. Either because the path of the wall blocks access or because it has been confiscated. In the ‘First Phase’ of construction 14,680 dunums of land was confiscated for the Wall. The amount of land that can be seized for the Wall’s construction is disproportionate to the Wall’s actual size. This is because the Wall also employs the use of “Buffer Zones”. These areas of land running alongside the wall can be anywhere between 300 metres to 1.2 miles wide. Palestinians are banned from these areas.The result is the further loss of Palestinian land. For farmers, the inability to reach and cultivate their land means the loss of their livelihoods and ability to provide for their families.
The Wall Violates Palestinians’ rights to proper Health and Education. Due to the Wall, the people in many West Bank villages have no access to Doctors or Hospitals. For example, although the United Nations Hospital in Qalqiliya was built to provide medical care to Palestinians in the Northern West Bank, the Wall has made this an impossibility.Students and Teachers have been cut off from their schools, by the Wall. For example, in Ad Dab’a students are no longer able to attend secondary school, as access in is prevented by the wall. Some schools are also faced with the threat of being demolished to make room for the wall.
In 2004 The International Court of Justice deemed the Wall to be illegal. Following its proceedings regarding the legal consequences of the Wall’s construction, The Court found that the Wall violated a number of laws, including the 4th Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Court concluded that the Wall must be torn down :
“Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion.”
In spite of this ruling, Israel has continued construction of the Wall. The Wall, as it stood during the Summer of 2010, was 520 Kilometres long and 64% complete. Despite Israeli rhetoric, the further construction of the wall and the large amounts of funds spent to construct tunnels and roads for the settlers (Israel has spent 2 Billion Shekels on this ), indicates Israel’s desire to make the Apartheid Wall and the occupation of the West Bank a permanent reality.
At the same time, Israel is reacting violently to those Palestinians who are rightfully protesting the Wall. Numerous protests against the Wall’s construction have been violently repressed by Israeli Forces. Such have been a continuous happening since the early days of the Wall’s construction. However, even since the ruling of the ICJ, Israeli Forces have met these protests with disproportionate violence and arrests. According to stopthewall.org, thousands have been injured and hundreds arrested. In March 2010, Israeli Forces shot and killed Mohammed Abdelqader Qadus (16) and Usaid Abd Qadus (19), while the teenagers were protesting the Wall.
Excerpt from the Campaign Statement:
“The Arab Spring has changed the Middle East. Solidarity protests have shaken Tunisia, the people in Egypt have literally closed down the Egyptian embassy. To the north, hundreds of Palestinian refugees together with Syrians and Lebanese have torn down the fences in the Syrian occupied Golan Heights and Lebanon and they did what Israel fears: Palestinian refugees stepped on their ancestral lands.
Emboldened by impunity, Israeli reaction was murder, repression, and more walls. Israeli authorities already announced the construction of a wall along the Egyptian border and in the Syrian Golan Heights.
However, no walls will shield Israeli apartheid against our spirit of rebellion and our calls for justice and self-determination.”