against the wall 

The World Bank: The Separation Fence Will Hurt Palestinians Immensely / Arnon Regular


The Fence Crosses Agricultural Roads and Pathways and Cuts Off Residents from their Water Resources, Schools, Businesses and Public Services

A report written by Bank experts for the U.S. and Norway governments, the U.N. and European Community has studied the impact of the separation fence being built by Israel since the summer of 2002. The report warns against the severe effects of the fence construction on the Palestinian population living in its vicinity, east of the green line.

Till April, about 147 kms of the fence route have been in various stages of construction and by now ca. 12.5 kms of fence have actually been completed. According to the report, the first stage of the fence construction has left about 12,000 Palestinians, residing in 15 villages, direct victims of the fence. According to the reports authors, 95,000 Palestinians will remain living between the fence and the green line (61,000 of them in the Jerusalem district) when the fence is completed. Further 20,000 Palestinians will be effected by the fence, though they will remain east of it.

The fence construction works which have already begun reach to a distance of six kms east of the green line and have been done [so] in order to leave several settlements west of the fence. [The fence] includes a wall and a series of accompanying means, such as an electronic fence, trenches and canals. According to the report, the fence crosses agricultural roads and cuts off residents from their water supply sources, from schools, businesses and public services. The farmers will remain on one side of the fence - and their means of livelihood will remain of the other side.

The government legal advisor has assured the Supreme Court that the government would build 26 special passages along the fence route, that would enable the Palestinian farmers to get to their lands. An engineer working on the study, has found so far what looks as the foundations to construct one passage. According to the report, the first stage of the fence construction having started in June 2002, resulted so far in infrastructure work and land confiscation along 126 km in the districts of Jenin, Tulkarem, Qaliqilia and Salfit; 21 km of fence are at a similar stage in the Jerusalem Embedding and Bethlehem districts.

The international community hasn't so far formed a clear position regarding the separation fence, neither do the report writers consider conclusions [obviously] drawn from the data. The World Bank representative in the [Occupied] territories, Nigel Roberts, said last week: Under consideration is a unilateral and unplanned step of Israel, as a substitute to negotiations, with far reaching implications. The purpose of the report is to gather neutral data relating to the fence which are indisputable.

According to Roberts, there are currently no international forums discussing the fence construction and route with Israel in an organized manner. In reaction to the report, the foreign office said: The security fence is a component of the Israeli government responsibility to protect its residents against a wave of terror originating in the West Bank. This protective measure has been carried out in order to block the passage of terrorists, bombs and ammunition to the state of Israel. Taking into account the security-operational character of the security fence, we are considering it as a thing outside the defined sphere of activity of the contributing states community.