10 Questions & Answers about the Apartheid Wall
1. What is the Apartheid Wall?
It is a concrete wall eight meters high which when completed will wind 1, 000km around the Palestinian West Bank. It is 30 times longer than the Berlin Wall built at a cost of $1. 6million per kilometer.
The Wall is a manifestation of Israel’s Occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza and a cynical demonstration of its policy of ethnic cleansing.
2. Why is it being built?
(a) Unilaterally determine the borders of the future Palestinian entity.
(b) Carve out and encircle the42 % (or less) of the West Bank which Israel claims it is prepared to cede to a Palestinian state.
(c) Separate Israelis from the Palestinian population while confining it to isolated enclaves, leaving Israel in control of the entire country. For this reason it is referred to internationally as the Apartheid Wall.
3. What is its impact on Palestinian freedom of movement?
The Wall cuts off residents from schools, water, businesses and public services. It isolates 18 Palestinian population centers to its west and squeezes 19 more by its curves, restricting totally the movements of their inhabitants.
4. How will it affect Palestinian lives?
The World Bank estimates that the number of Palestinians who will be adversely affected by the Apartheid Wall is between95 , 000and200 ,000.
More than1 , 500acres, one-third of the town of Qalqilya has been confiscated. With about half the water resources of the West Bank, the Qalqilya, Jenin, Tul Karim area is the most important agricultural basket in the West Bank, producing about42 % of all its fruit and vegetable. At present,18 , 000residents from nine villages, together with 19 artesian wells, are trapped to the west, between Israel and the Wall.
Completion of the Wall will impede the development of an integrated Palestinian economy, increase unemployment, reinforce poverty, and trigger the fragmentation of the social fabric.
5. What does the law say about this?
The unilateral demarcation of a new border and annexation of occupied land is a violation of the laws of war – humanitarian law. Under the title of ‘hostilities’ (Article 23 (9g) the Hague Regulations of1907 provides that the destruction or seizure of an enemy’s property is ‘especially forbidden’, unless ‘imperatively demanded by the necessities of war’
Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention includes among the grave breaches liable to penal sanction under Article 146 ‘excessive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.’
6. What is the relationship between the Wall and the Jewish settlements?
The UN Human Rights Commission confirms that the Wall incorporates nearly half of the400 , 000settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
7. How does the Wall affect water resources?
It has practically annexed 31 water wells into Israel, denying the Palestinians 4 million square meters of their water a year.
Completion of the Wall will result in the removal of tens of thousands of trees and will affect the hydrology of the watersheds. This will cause changes in water quantity and quality, stream channel morphology and groundwater levels. Surface water flow will be altered, and there will be an increase in erosion and sedimentation. The consequences on the region’s water supplies around the Wall are also of serious concern.
8. Is this a form of ethnic cleansing?
By inducing poverty and starvation, Israel aims to consummate its policy of ethnic cleansing. The Israeli military declared all occupied West Bank land between the “security” wall and Israel’s pre-occupation 1967border a “Closed Zone”. Access to the Closed Zone is granted to Israelis only.
While the15 , 300Palestinian residents in this 115 square km area, or those in adjoining communities who own agricultural land here (180,000 people) must now obtain permits to validate their existence, any Jewish person from anywhere in the world is free to settle on this land according to the Israeli Law of Return (July1950 ).
The Israeli government seeks through this policy of forced poverty and starvation, brought on by the construction of the Wall and “Closed Zones” to make life so unbearable for communities in the West Bank that they would leave in the hope of finding a better life.
9. What impact does this have on future negotiations?
Should the Wall be completed as projected, its contours, rather than Palestinian needs, will determine the outcome of negotiations on borders. The issue of settlements and the fate of Jerusalem could also be determined, as the city is already enclosed on three sides by settlements and bordered by Israel to the west.
The Wall out-rules the restoration of the rights of Palestinian refugees, particularly those forced from their homes in1948 . Israel has repeatedly stated that it will not allow the refugees to return to homes inside Israel. It insists that they be absorbed within the future Palestinian state. This proposition must be ruled out firstly because it does not comply with international law and secondly because it would be impracticable after the Wall leaves the Palestinians with42 % of the West Bank.
10. What can you do?
• Raise awareness of MPs.
• Break the silence.
• Mobilize support within parliament to support families affected by the Wall.
• Activate a campaign within the EU parliament and the Council of Europe.
• Coordinate with local, national and international civil society organizations.
• Support the International Solidarity Day with the Palestinian People against the Apartheid Wall (9th November3003 ).
Sources: Courtesy the Palestine Monitor, Ramallah, and the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network