The West Bank is in the process of being isolated by the Israeli West Bank barrier. The Israelis refer to it as the “Security Wall”, Palestinians call it the “Apartheid Barrier”. Around Jerusalem, the contested capital of both the Israeli and Palestinian states, the grey mass of tall, concrete slabs cut through the land, winding along the hills, separating the “haves” from the “have nots”. The wall is a barrier of segregation of people. It has “led to the creation of a Palestinian enclave-state in waiting”. It is a constant sign of oppression for the communities that live under its shadow, walking past it every day.
In July 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled (14-1) that it is illegal in its entirety. The U.N. General Assembly then passed a resolution (150-6) calling to dismantle the wall.
Israel is using the wall to annex parts of the Palestinian Territories, grabbing land of what should be the Palestinian state, under a two-state solution. It deviates vastly from the “Green Line” which defines the borders of Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The 703km route of the wall slices out parts of the West Bank to include sites holy to Judaism, as well as Israeli settlements in the West Bank, themselves illegal under international law.
Bethlehem has become a focus point of both Palestinian & international graffiti, calling for the destruction of the barrier, freedom for the Palestinian people, and the end of apartheid. International artists such as Banksy and Roger Walters (of Pink Floyd) have graphically added their voice to the struggle. Phrases along it call for “Freedom Now”, “Down With The Occupation”. It includes messages such as “Israel, is this what you want to be remembered by?”, as well as being laced with the odd bit of humour. It is “One Wall, Two Prisons”, according to some graffiti I saw near Ramallah.
What I don’t understand, is how the international community lets this happen. It has been declared illegal, yet construction continues. (On the 4th March 2010 in Beit Jala, olive trees were being uprooted to pave the way for the continuation of the wall.) There are no punitive measures taken against Israel in the forms of sanctions or withdrawal of aid. If this were any other country in the region, this would not be the case.
Throughout the West Bank, there are weekly protests by communities who are directly threatened by the existence of the wall, or its proposed route. Internationals & Israelis unite with the Palestinians to show their solidarity. I would soon join their ranks.
» Protest posts: General, An Nabi Salih, Hebron, Al Ma’sara.
» A short slideshow of photos from the Bethlehem stretch of the wall.