"The prospects of a completed wall are horrific, and will translate into the confiscation and annexation of some 10% of the West Bank .."
By Jamaal Jumaa
CONTRARY to WORDWIDE NEWS reports, the WALL (also referred to as the "fence" or "security fence") which Israel is currently building in the northeast of the West Bank, as well as in the Bethlehem and Jerusalem areas, will not mark the 1967 border, also known as the
Green Line. Rather, amidst some of the most fertile land in Palestine, this latest unilateral offensive will be a further exercise in Israel's annexation of lands, destruction of agriculture
and property, and violation of human rights.
The construction and destruction revolving around the Apartheid
Wall is to move full-force in the coming months and the Wall could be
completed in less than one year. The prospects of a completed wall
are horrific, and will translate into the confiscation and annexation of some 10% of the West Bank, the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dunums of farmland including the uprooting of
hundreds of thousands of trees, the demolition of homes, and the tragic "advancement" of the closure and siege policy that will leave thousands of families landless, jobless, hungry, and hopeless. The image of cities and villages encircled by checkpoints, by-pass roads, and settlements is now being accompanied by an 8-meter high
concrete wall with trenches, electric fences, sensors, cameras, and armed watchtowers.
The Apartheid Wall Campaign was born out of an October 2, 2002, meeting of the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) General Assembly, where it was decided that PENGON, with the support
of its member organizations, must make the Wall a priority of its work; and, stating clearly that successful efforts on behalf of the Wall must be joint and widespread, both in local efforts, and in
PENGON counts 21 member organizations-the majority of West Bank and Gaza environmental organizations-which deal with a variety of environmental issues including land protection and development, water, agriculture, pollution, health, sustainable development, biodiversity, and cultural heritage. PENGON was born out of a call
at the start of this Intifada to ensure coordinated and effective efforts among NGOs to deal with the environmental consequences of Occupation and the increased Israeli (military, settlements,
industrial) assaults on life and land in the Occupied Territories.
The Campaign itself sees its aim as two fold: on the one hand, to work and mobilize against the Wall and its immediate and expected consequences to environment and human rights; and on the other hand, to shed light on the expanding stranglehold of the Occupation,
marked by checkpoints, closures, siege, settlements, and the Wall.
The larger context is the underlying motivation behind the Campaign.
The Campaign looks to integrate local needs and efforts with
information collection and international advocacy. Among other
things, the Apartheid Wall Campaign organizes visits to the northern
West Bank areas affected by the Wall.
Local councils, farmers unions, and other grassroots organizations have also formally joined the Campaign. In addition, the first and second Emergency Centers for the Campaign have already
been established in the Tulkarem and Qalqiliya areas where information collection, meetings among the communities and with local and international solidarity groups, social mobilization coordination, and public and legal services are to take place in
relation to the Wall. The third Emergency Center is currently being established in Jenin. To date, the Campaign is overwhelmingly a volunteer effort.
The first phase of the Apartheid Wall is currently taking place
in the northern West Bank, where the Apartheid Wall will reach an
approximate length of 115km. Fifteen villages will be trapped
between the Wall and the Green Line, while the built-up
(residential) areas of at least 15 villages will be east of the
Apartheid Wall with a significant portion of their lands on the
other side. The city of Qalqiliya, which is the urban center for the
entire area, will be completely encircled by the Apartheid Wall. In
addition, approximately 30 groundwater wells which have a total
discharge of 4 million cubic meters per year (4 MCM/year) will be
out of bounds, having been separated by the Wall from the villages
depending on them, meaning even further Israeli control over
Palestinian water resources. Falamya, for example, is to loose its
main source of water.
The reference in the international media to a "fence" being
placed to separate the "two sides" should be seen more as a cynical,
unrepresentative use of terms than any real reflection of the Wall
itself, both in its massive physical structure and its implications
on the lives of tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people. The
separation rhetoric, which should remind everyone of the Afrikaans
word for separation--"Apartheid"--is not a reflection of real
geographic or a historic physical divide between two peoples, but
rather is reference to Israel's continued campaign of forcible,
unilateral separation and expulsion plans that disregard national or
economic sovereignty for Palestinians. The Wall just furthers
the "bantustanization" of the West Bank into hundreds of small,
dependent entities that cannot sustain themselves and that are more
akin to small, disconnected open-air prisons surrounded by Israeli
military checkpoints and settlements, than anything else.
To contact the Campaign, and for more details about the Apartheid
Wall, including Report #1, please visit www.pengon.org or write the
Campaign/PENGON at outreachpengon.org.