The author gives his point of view of the apartheid wall in Palestine after
having visited the region.
This wall will soon be destroyed. I am positive.
Tuesday July 21 2009
In many parts of the West Bank, Israel's much-vaunted separation wall is
conspicuous by its absence; Ha'aretz reports that only around 60% of the
barrier has been completed will come as no surprise to those who spend time
in the area around the project's proposed route.
In places such as the South Hebron Hills, the only obstacles separating
thousands of Palestinians from Israeli communities are sporadic flying
checkpoints thrown up by the army, or flimsy, unguarded wire fences
ostensibly keeping the terrorist hordes at bay. If mainstream Israeli
thinking is to be believed, the "security" wall is vital for the safety of
Israel's citizens, the implication being that scores of would-be bombers are
daily banging their heads against a concrete wall as they try desperately to
reach Israeli cities to unleash carnage on unsuspecting women and children.
However, the facts simply don't add up. If 40% percent of a mosquito net was
removed, the remaining mesh would have no protective effect, since the
insects would simply sail through the hole and get on with their
blood-sucking task unimpeded. Yet, according to the Israeli authorities,
that is not the case when it comes to the separation wall, and millions of
Israelis are all too eager to swallow the lie in order to achieve a
deceptive peace of mind.
At the end of a trip to Nablus, I was shown first-hand how simple it is to
circumnavigate the wall and checkpoints and enter Israel entirely at will,
and without encountering a single soldier or slab of wall. If it was that
easy for me by day, it would be even easier for a militant by cover of
darkness, and the same is true throughout the porous perimeter across the
Travelling unchecked to and from Bethlehem, Bet Jalla and other towns to the
immediate south of Jerusalem is child's play for determined tourist or
terrorist alike, yet statistics have shown a marked decrease in suicide
attacks ? suggesting that something other than the non-existent barrier is
preventing such atrocities taking place around the clock.
Some believe that Hamas are responsible for the reduction in bombings,
having never rescinded their declared hudna on suicide attacks shortly after
coming to power. Others believe that the Palestinians realised that suicide
bombings were a failed policy, in that they simply gave Israel justification
for further land-grabs and heightened security measures in response to the
One activist to whom I spoke commented that the Shin Bet's network of
informants was in fact the most effective tool Israel had in preventing
suicide bombings, noting that the massive unemployment rate in the West Bank
drove more and more Palestinians to desperate measures, such as
collaboration, in order to supplement their meagre incomes.
Whether the near-cessation of suicide attacks is down to a policy of
ceasefire or an increase in informers tipping off the Israeli authorities,
the wall itself has very little effect on the statistics. If anything, it
increases the likelihood of renewed violence against Israeli citizens in the
long term, thanks to its crippling impact on life for Palestinians affected
by the route of the barrier, and their belief that their situation is
unlikely to ever improve.
In the meantime, many settlers are up in arms about the route of the wall,
claiming that they have been "abandoned" behind the barrier by the Israeli
authorities. They claim that they have no protection from attacks at the
hands of Palestinian militants, despite the army maintaining a presence
wherever Jewish settlers set up shop in the West Bank.
The defence minister Ehud Barak is "determined to complete the security
fence, despite the delays", according to reports, although legal challenges
and diplomatic pressure appear to have put paid to any major construction
efforts for the foreseeable future. Settlements, as well as the
infrastructure supporting their existence, are too hot a topic at present
for the Israeli authorities simply to take unilateral decisions about where
to place the wall or how to fence in those communities currently bereft of
Instead of burying their heads in the sand and pretending that all is well
in terms of Israelis' security as a result of an incomplete wall, Israel's
leaders ought to be worried about the consequences of continuing their
policies of intransigence towards the Palestinians. The cyclical nature of
the conflict means that the relative calm of today is by no means guaranteed
to continue into the future.
Stifling the Palestinians of the means to provide for their families,
whether by denying them freedom of movement or by brazenly taking their land
from under their noses, ensures another generation will grow up resenting
Israel and eventually resorting to violence as a way of expressing their
Despite such tactics not being in the best interests of the Palestinian
people, the fact that they have seen no progress even when they put down
their arms means that the dam will inevitably burst again soon. When it
does, the inefficacy of Israel's half-built wall will be plain for all to
see, as too will the half-hearted measures at rapprochement which have
hampered peace efforts for years and decades gone by.