The West Bank barrier is a separation wall being constructed by Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately 760kms – twice the length of the Green Line between the West Bank and Israel. It measures twice as high as the Berlin Wall at 8 metres high.
Originally the idea came from then Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin back in 1992, construction began at the time of the Oslo Agreement in 1994.
Supporters argue that the barrier is necessary to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian terrorism, including the suicide bombing attacks that increased significantly during the Second Intifada. There have been a reduced a number of incidents of suicide bombings since the construction of the barrier. Supporters argue that this is indicative of the barrier being effective in preventing such attacks. Indeed the number of attacks have been reduced by 90%.
Opponents of the barrier object that the substantially deviates from the Green Line into the occupied territories captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. They argue the barrier is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security, violates international law, has the effect of pre-emptying final status negotiations, and severely restricts Palestinians who live nearby, particularly their ability to travel freely within the West Bank and to access work in Israel.
In a 2004 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice found that "the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law".
Some Jewish settlers also condemn the barrier for appearing to renounce the Jewish claim to the whole of the Land of Israel.
The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, reduction of the amount of check-points, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel, restricted access to water sources, and generally negative economic effects.
The Red Cross and Amnesty International are among several high profile NGOs that have condemned its construction.
Bleak and grey on the Israeli side, it has provided a massive canvas for Palestinian protest. And indeed graffiti artists from around the World have had an input, including England’s legendary Banksy himself!the imposing grey wall on the Israeli side
At a time when Israelis and Palestinians should be endeavouring to build bridges, it seems ironic that all there is is a dividing wall.
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