Israeli Apartheid wall: Still illegal

Still illegal Four years on, Palestinians still demand that
the World Court’s ruling on Israel’s apartheid wall be
implemented, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank

On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in
The Hague ruled as illegal the so- called “separation wall”
— the gigantic barrier Israel had been building in the
West Bank.

The wall has not yet been completed, mainly due to
procedural and financial problems. But when completed, it
would devour nearly 46 per cent of the West Bank, 10 per
cent of which would be isolated on the “Israeli” side of
the barrier. This almost certainly means annexation.

This is added to East Jerusalem and surrounding Arab
villages, which constitutes four per cent of the occupied
West Bank. Israel has already cordoned East Jerusalem, with
its estimated quarter of a million Palestinians, with an
eight- metre high barrier, cutting them off from the rest
of the West Bank.

The landmark ruling by the ICJ stated that the gigantic
barrier, built mostly on confiscated Arab land occupied by
Israel in 1967, was in violation of international law and
should be torn down. The ruling also reaffirmed that all
Jewish colonies built in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and
the Gaza Strip since 1967 were likewise illegal under
international law and ought to be dismantled.

Palestinians suffering losses as a result of the wall, the
ICJ ruled, would have to be compensated by Israel. Israel,
emboldened by its guardian-ally, the United States,
rejected the ruling defiantly, arguing that its viewpoint
was not taken into consideration by ICJ judges.

In fact, far from paying the slightest attention to the ICJ
ruling, Israel actually accelerated its seizing of
Palestinian land, with the Israeli High Court of Justice
acting as a rubber stamp in the hands of the Israeli
occupation army to give the huge land-grab a façade of
legality it cannot have.

Palestinians in general viewed the ruling as an important
victory for their cause. However, few Palestinians had any
illusions as to the realistic prospects of getting the
US-dominated “international community” to ensure
implementation of the ICJ ruling on the ground. After all,
numerous other resolutions by the UN and its Security
Council declaring Israeli actions illegal and null and void
remained mere “ink on paper”.

In recent days, Palestinians all over the West Bank have
been marking the fourth anniversary of the ICJ ruling with
renewed determination to end the 41-year-old Israeli
occupation of their homeland. Indeed, the construction of
the ugly barrier, which many also call “the wall of shame”
is but a symptom of the Israeli occupation, just as is the
proliferation of Jewish-only colonies and Jewish-only roads
throughout the occupied territories.

Last week, eight protests were held in the West Bank, from
Jenin in the north to Bethlehem in the south. The
protesters, who also included foreign peace activists,
carried aloft Palestinian flags as well as signs calling
for the demolition of the wall.

In Deir Al-Ghusun near Tulkarem (in the northern West
Bank), protesters marched to the wall that isolated their
orchards and farms. One protester called the seizure of his
land by the Israeli army “an act of rape”. He accused
Israel of “deceiving and lying to the world”.

“First they said the wall was a security structure, not a
political border. However, we have seen that all Israeli
policies and actions indicate that Israel deals with the
wall as constituting political boundaries,” said the
middle-aged man.

Soon, however, the protest was suppressed by Israeli
occupation troops invading the village via military gates
built into the wall. The purpose of these gates is to allow
the Israeli army easy access to adjacent Palestinian
villages, thus facilitating control over the local
populace.

On 11 July, Palestinian villagers and foreign peace
activists marched to the wall at the villages of Jayyous,
Niilin, Billin and Al-Khadr where they clashed with Israeli
troops defending the wall. Villagers spoke bitterly of
Israeli military bulldozers decimating and pulverising
their centuries-old olive groves and ancestral farms, upon
which much of their livelihood depends.

For their part, Israeli occupation soldiers were in no mood
to allow the victims of Israeli apartheid policy and ethnic
cleansing to even peacefully communicate their grievances
to the outside world. Even before protesters arrived at the
site of the decimated groves, occupation soldiers showered
them with rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs and tear gas.
One villager was seriously injured, and as many as 50 olive
trees were set on fire by exploding bombs and tear gas
shells.

Undoubtedly, the wall has inflicted incalculable losses of
national proportions on Palestinians in the West Bank,
covering all aspects of their existence and survival.
According to Abdul-Hadi Hantash, a cartographer and expert
on Jewish settlements, the wall has a length of 786
kilometres and is built along the main water reservoir
basins in the West Bank, which produce 460 million cubic
metres of mostly fresh water per year. Of this amount,
around five per cent goes to the Palestinians while Israel
grabs the rest.

Hantash said the wall had already isolated more than 70
Palestinian villages and hamlets with a total population of
223,000 people. It also resulted in the uprooting or
destruction of 108,000 full-grown trees, including 84,000
olive trees.

Hantash said the Palestinian Authority (PA) should not take
the wall as a separate issue. “This sinister wall is an
integral part of the Jewish settlement policy. It is a
symptom of the occupation, and as we all know symptoms
can’t be eradicated without treating the root cause first.”

Hantash was speaking on 11 July during a symposium held in
Dura, near Hebron, marking the passage of four years since
the adoption by the ICJ of the landmark ruling against the
wall.

Talab Al-Sanie, a Palestinian member of the Israeli
parliament, who also took part in the symposium, pointed
out that the construction of the wall was motivated by an
overwhelming Israeli desire to unilaterally impose
political boundaries between Israel and a prospective
Palestinian state.

Al-Sanie, however, argued that the ICJ ruling proved that
the wall was “an illegitimate phenomenon stemming from
another equally illegitimate phenomenon, namely the Israeli
occupation of Arab land”. He pointed out that Israel was
simply trying to resolve its demographic problems and fears
at the expense of the Palestinian people.

“Jews ought to realise that this hateful military
occupation will not give them security. They should also
understand that their enemy is not the Palestinian people,
but the occupation, the termination of which would put an
end to the conflict in the region.”

To his chagrin, most Israelis, especially their government
and the military establishment, denounce Al-Sanie’s views,
explaining the continued expansion of Jewish settlements
all over the West Bank and on both sides of the
“separation” wall.

Caption: Palestinian demonstrators gather at the apartheid
wall during a protest marking the fourth anniversary since
the International Court of Justice called for partial
demolition of the wall in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood
of Beit Hanin

C a p t i o n 2: Palestinian demonstrators gather at the
apartheid wall during a protest marking the fourth
anniversary since the International Court of Justice called
for partial demolition of the wall in the East Jerusalem
neighbourhood of Beit Hanin

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