For Your Information:

Israel's Apartheid Wall

January 22, 2006

In June 2002, the Israeli government decided to build a separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank. The separation barrier is part-wall and part-fence. The part-wall is a concrete wall eight meters high with observation towers. The part-fence is made up of a concrete base with a five meter high barbed-wire superstructure fitted with electronic monitoring devices and trenches on both sides. The total length of the structure is 670-kilometer (420 miles), and in some areas the width is about 60 meters.

While Israeli propaganda claims that the wall is for "security purposes," the reality (as well as public admissions of Israeli officials) proves that the Wall is designed:

-- to expropriate more Palestinian land;

-- increase Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and de facto annex them to Israel;

-- divide the remaining Palestinian towns and land into isolated cantons deprived of the means to create any viable, independent state.

This is why the Palestinians refer to the wall as the "Apartheid Wall."

Expropriation of Land

Israel finalized the route of the wall in 2005. It is being built not along the Israeli-West Bank border but east of this border; at completion the Wall will result in the expropriation of 7.4% of the West Bank and the effective expansion of Israel's borders.

According to the United Nations, the first phase of the barrier has already resulted in the confiscation and razing of 10,000 dunums (1 dunum=0.25 acres) of privately-owned land, the uprooting of over 80,000 trees, the destruction of 35 kilometers of water pipes and the demolition of dozens of greenhouses. Because of its position atop the western ground water basin the barrier will also have a severe impact on water access, use and allocation, with a number of villages losing their only source of water. A number of Palestinian communities have been partly or entirely demolished by the construction of the barrier. (see UNRWA "Emergency Appeal" at

In addition, the section of the Wall being built to encircle the Israeli settlement at Ariel will de-facto annex another 2.1% of the West Bank. The total area of Israeli settlement blocs which will be located on the Israeli side of the Wall constitute another 8% of the land. And the actual construction of the Wall is expropriating another 2% of Palestinian land.

Altogether the completion of the Wall will leave Palestinians only 54% of the West Bank or less than 14% of the original territory of Palestine.

Encircling Palestinian Towns

The route of the Wall surrounds many Palestinian villages and towns, cutting them off from each other and placing the inhabitants under the thumb of Israeli authorities.

For example, the town of Qalqilya, once known as the West Bank's "fruit basket", lies within a tight loop in the wall. It is cut off on three sides -- from the farms which supply its markets and the region's second-largest water sources. Access to the 40,000-inhabitant town passes through a single Israeli checkpoint. In the case of other villages, such as Abu Dis, the Wall runs right through them, cutting them into two.

Altogether 10.2% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank (2. 4 million) will be encircled by the Wall and another 12% will be separated from their own cultivated agricultural land.

Restricting Palestinian Movement

The barrier puts new restrictions on the movement of thousands of Palestinians living near or inside the barrier. In September 2004, Israel declared the area between the Wall and the 1967 boundary a Closed Zone. Tens of thousands of residents have to get permits and go through gates built along the completed sections of the Wall to get to their farms, schools, work places, hospitals etc....

Procedures for obtaining permits to access this land have become increasingly complex and arduous. In numerous cases, applicants continue to be denied due to unspecified "security" reasons, or due to problems proving ownership of land in the "Closed Zone." These new restrictions leave Palestinian farmers unable to cultivate their land in the "Closed Zone," prompting many to fear that the Israeli authorities will eventually cite the "non-use" of their land as a pretext for confiscation.

Thus the wall, by denying farmers access to land, by denying workers access to jobs, by preventing normal commercial exchange, etc. is not only destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands. It is undermining the economy of towns and regions and the possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state with an independent and viable economy.