The Wall is not being built on, or in most cases near the 1967 Green Line, but rather cuts deep into the West Bank, expanding Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and resources. In total, 85% of the Wall is located in the West Bank.
When completed, the Wall and its associated regime will de facto annex some 46% of the West Bank, isolating communities into Bantustans, ghettos and “military zones”.
This means that the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including almost 1.5 million refugees, will be encircled on only 12% of mandate Palestine.
Some 12% of Palestinians in the West Bank will be living in the closed military zone of the Jordan Valley or surrounded on three or four sides by the Wall or isolated between it and the green line. They face increasingly unbearable living conditions - the loss of land, markets, movement and livelihoods - and many will face expulsion.
This includes over 200,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem, who will be totally isolated from the rest of the West Bank. 98% of the settler population will be included in the de facto annexed areas.
The Wall is not a new “idea” - since 1994 the Gaza Strip has been surrounded by a barrier that cuts off Palestinians there from the rest of the world.
The Apartheid Wall’s Location and Costs
In November 2000 Israeli Prime Minister Barak (Labour Party) approved the first project to build a “barrier”. Construction of the Wall, including land confiscation and the uprooting of trees, began in June 2002 west of Jenin.
As of summer 2010, 520 km of the planned 810 km, or 64%, had been completed. Wall construction was slow for most of 2010 as a result of worries about the financial crisis and ongoing court cases. Instead of building new portions of the Wall, work focused on modifications in the areas of Bil’in, Jayyus and around Jerusalem.
In the latter half of 2010, there was renewed work in Jerusalem where the focus was on closing gaps in certain areas. In Bethlehem, Wall construction has restarted in al Walaja village, where the village will be surrounded on all sides. Work is also ongoing in Beit Jala, where the Wall is being built along a settler road.
The Jordan Valley remains almost completely isolated from the rest of the West Bank as a closed military zone.
According to Israeli military officials, the Wall’s total length will be some 810 km. The cost of the Wall is now estimated at $2.1 billion, and each km costs approximately $2 million. In addition, the Occupation has spent 2 billion shekels to construct alternative roads and tunnels.
The Wall has destroyed a large amount of Palestinian farmland and usurped water supplies, including the biggest aquifer in the West Bank. 78 Palestinian villages and communities with a total population of 266,442 will be isolated as follows:
- Villages surrounded by Wall, settlements and settler roads - 257,265 Palestinians.
- Villages isolated between Wall and Green Line - 8,557 Palestinians
- Villages isolated and residents threatened with expulsion - 6,314 Palestinians.
The so-called “disengagement”, “modifications”, “convergence” and “development” are all part of the Israeli rhetoric that hides the overall strategy for the complete colonization of the West Bank and the expulsion or enslavement of the Palestinian population.
The “modification” of the path of the Wall, far from being a benefit for the local population, often only returns a fraction of what was stolen. It also serves to distract from the ICJ ruling, which calls for the dismantling of the Wall, not the rerouting of small sections. In addition, these modifications often ensure that the lands that remain isolated behind the Wall cannot be accessed by their owners, effectively annexing them. Instead of dismantling settlements, the Occupation continues to expand them, in particular those located around Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Apartheid Wall as a Network
The concrete Wall is present in Bethlehem, parts of Ramallah, Qalqilya, parts of Tulkarm and throughout the Jerusalem envelope. It is 8 meters high - twice the height of the Berlin Wall - with watchtowers and a “buffer zone” 30-100 meters wide for electric fences, trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrols. In other places, the Wall consists of layers of fencing and razor wire, military patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches and surveillance cameras.
The Apartheid Wall’s “buffer zone” paves the way for large-scale demolitions and the expulsion of nearby residents, as in many places the Wall is located just meters away from homes, shops, and schools. The land between the Apartheid Wall and the Green Line has been declared a “seam zone”, and all residents and landowners in this area must obtain a permit to remain in their homes and on their lands.
The Occupation has created agricultural “gates” in the Wall; these do not provide any guarantee that farmers will have access to their lands but instead strengthen Israel’s strangling system of permits and checkpoints where Palestinians are beaten, detained, shot at and humiliated. In total, there are:
- 34 fortified checkpoints - 3 main terminals, 9 commercial terminals, and 22 terminals for cars and workers that control all Palestinian movement.
- 44 tunnels will connect 22 small ghettos inside 3 main ghettos.
- 634 checkpoints or other military obstructions including trenches, roadblocks, metal gates under Occupation control.
- 1,661 km of settler roads connect settlements and settlement blocs and complement the Wall system.
The ghettoization project in all of its forms imprisons the Palestinian population and, in many places, isolates it from basic services. This, along with the loss of land, markets, and resources, results in the inability of communities to sustain themselves adequately and with dignity.
The northwestern part from Jenin to Qalqiliya (the “first phase” of 145 km) is complete while continuing south until Salfit. From there it merges with the other portion of the Wall to form a ghetto in the north.
Within the “first phase”, 13 villages west of the Wall have been de facto annexed to Israel and some 50 villages are separated from their lands.
Also in the “first phase”, Israel has confiscated 36 groundwater wells and at least another 14 wells are threatened with demolition in the Wall’s “buffer zone”.
Salfit, the most fertile area of the West Bank known as the “food basket”, will lose more than 50% of its land – isolated behind the Apartheid Wall.
North of Salfit, the Ariel settlement bloc cuts into 22km of the West Bank, separating the Central Ghetto from the North. This annexes 2% of the West Bank.
The Wall winds 22km into the West Bank to annex the settlement blocs creating two fingers: Immanuel and Ariel. The route of the two creates small, isolated Palestinian ghettos. Communities like ‘Izbat Abu Adam, Dar Abu Basal and Wadi Qana are isolated inside the settlement blocs themselves. Another three villages, Az Zawiya, Deir Ballut and Rafat, east of the Ariel Finger, are to be surrounded on four sides by the Wall and connected to the reset of the West Bank by tunnel. More than a dozen villages located along the route of the Wall will collectively lose thousands of dunums of productive land.
The Wall encircles the Holy City and the ring of settler colonies around it, furthering Jerusalem’s isolation from the West Bank. The Wall rips through villages and neighborhoods, separating families, cutting social and economic ties, and ghettoizing areas stolen by the Zionist project in its plans for Jerusalem as the future capital of Israel.
New settlements are under construction around Jerusalem built on the annexed lands. This seeks to enlarge the number of Jewish settlers in the area in the project to change the city’s demography. Some 25 villages and neighbourhoods will be completely isolated from the rest of Jerusalem and the West Bank and squeezed into five different ghettos. The Wall in Jerusalem is almost completed. Only small parts in the north and east of the city are still under construction. The Jerusalem district will, in total, lose 90% of its land when the Wall is completed. It is a central component of the plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Jerusalem.
The right of Palestinians to live in Jerusalem is also under threat, and of the 396 Palestinian structures that were demolished by Israeli forces in 2010, many were located in Jerusalem.
In the southern West Bank the Apartheid Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west. With the land isolated by the Wall, annexed for settlements, and closed under various pretexts, only 13% of the Bethlehem district is available for Palestinian use. In Bethlehem and Hebron concrete walls surround the main holy sites, Rachel’s Tomb and Abraham’s Mosque respectively. Rachel’s Tomb is already inaccessible to Palestinians and is being annexed. The Wall isolates thousands of dunums from Hebron district, threatening cattle rearing, which is a main of source livelihood in the area.
Since 2000 the Valley has been surrounded with 6 checkpoints controlling all access. The Occupation announced in February 2006 a plan to annex 28.5% of the Valley, including 24 villages with a population of 52,000 along with their water resources and the Eastern aquifer. 200,000 people living in the Tubas and Nablus regions who own land or have family in the Jordan Valley are denied access.
The Gaza Strip, with a population of some 1.5 million people in 365 km2 is one of the most densely populated places on the globe. It is a prison that has been completely surrounded for years by walls and razor wire. The Wall in Gaza extends to about 55 kilometers starting from northwest of Beit Lahia until southeast of Rafah. Along the Wall runs a “buffer zone” which ranges, since the Gaza assault, between 300 – 600 meters. Anyone approaching the buffer zone runs the risk of being shot. The consequences of the buffer zone have been severe. 25% of the most fertile agricultural lands in Gaza are not useable. 15% of Gaza farmers are deprived of work, joining the ranks of the unemployed and becoming dependent on the food aid.
Repression of popular resistance
Popular resistance to the Wall, which consists of demonstrations and various means of direct action, began with the first demolitions in 2002 and has continued ever since. Repression by Israeli forces has been severe. There have been 16 people killed in demonstrations against the Wall, half of them under 18. Thousands more have been injured, and hundreds arrested. From 2008 – 2009 in the village of Ni’lin, for instance, nearly 500 were injured by Israeli fire, and more than 70 were arrested. The first wave of killings and serious repression lasted for a year and began in 2004 with the killing of 5 people in Biddu, which had organized mass demonstrations against the construction of the Wall. In 2005, 3 children were shot dead in Beit Liqya. A similar wave of killings occurred during 2008-2009, when Occupation forces killed 5 in Ni’lin and 1 in Bil’in, again in response to ongoing resistance.
Repression continued in 2010, and arrests in villages protesting the Wall increased. This is not to say that violence disappeared; protestors are continually beaten and injured by projectiles at demonstrations. In March 2010, soldiers shot and killed Mohammed Abdelqader Qadus (16) and Usaid Abd Qadus (19) in the village of Iraq Burin. The village had been holding weekly demonstrations in protest of settler violence and land confiscation.
Arrests related to actions against the Wall and settlements continued to increase. From our grassroots committees and local human rights NGOs, there has been an estimated 250 arrests of human rights defenders (HRDs) in response to actions against the Wall and settlements. This number does not include Jerusalem, where an estimated 750 Palestinians, many of them minors, were arrested in 2010.
Despite this repression, grassroots action against the Wall and settlements continue to expand across the West Bank. Friday protests continued in the villages of Bil’in, al Ma’sara and Ni’lin as well as the Saturday protests in Beit Ummar. The weekly protest in an Nabi Saleh, which began a year ago, remains strong.
Marches against the checkpoint in Beitin, the Wall in al Walaja and Beit Jala have also been organized, in addition to the protests against the settlements that were also occurring every Saturday in Iraq Burkin and more recently in the old city of Hebron.
These demonstrations are costly for Occupation forces. During the trial of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, documents presented revealed that ammunition used against demonstrations from August 2008 – 2009 cost 6.5 million NIS (1.83 USD), and the concrete wall erected in Ni’lin, a response to the continued cutting of the fence, cost 8.5 million NIS (2.39 USD).
Settlement expansion and settler violence
Despite the pretense of international political pressure, settlement expansion continued in 2010, with a considerable amount of activity taking place in and around Jerusalem. In January, 600 new settlement units were approved in East Jerusalem in the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev and around the Palestinian neighborhood of Shu’afat. This was followed in March by the approval of 1600 housing in Ramat Shlomo, north of Jerusalem, as well as 1300 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Yakoov, and Har Homa. Construction on many of the buildings in Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yakoov began or reached various stages of approval throughout the year. In April, the Occupation municipality approved 321 settlement units in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
New homes for settlers were built around Bethlehem, where Occupation authorities are also in the process of continuing Wall construction. In March 112 settlement units were authorized for construction in Betar Illit, while in June construction on 100 units began near Beit Jala and al Walajah. At the end of the year, a plan to build 90 housing units in the Gilo settlement was approved.
Settlement activity continued in other areas of the West Bank as well. According to the PNA, during the first half of 2010, 1135 housing units were built, 339 in East Jerusalem and remainder in other parts of the West Bank. Also in the first half of 2010, 3009 settlement residential units were under construction, 1029 in the West Bank.
More construction is planned, and media reports in June reported settler councils planned to build 2,700 new housing units, many in the northern West Bank. Other reports in September revealed that 12,000 housing units were planned for East Jerusalem settlements, and that 50,000 more new housing units were in various stages of planning, approval or construction through the remainder of the West Bank.
Settler violence against Palestinians also increased in 2010, with more than 300 “incidents” recorded by UN OCHA. Of these, 205 related to attacks and damage of property by settlers. In 108 cases settlers attacked and wounded Palestinians. As has been the case in past years, attacks intensified during the yearly olive harvest, in particular in villages around Nablus, where Palestinian residents faced dozens of settler attacks.