Fact Sheets > wall
The apartheid wall Fact Sheet
Israel's Unilateral Separation: Part I - Part II
Bad Fences Make Bad Neighbors
(Produced by Palestinian Negotiating Team)
The UN General Assembly DEMANDS that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, which is in departure of the Armistice Line of 1949 and is in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law. (A/ES-10/L.15; A/RES/ES-10/13 of 21 October 2003)
Fact Sheet - Apartheid Wall
The construction of the Israeli separation wall began on the 16th June 2002. For the most part the barrier, which could eventually extend over 750km, consists of a series of 25 foot high concrete walls, trenches, barbed wire and electrified fencing with numerous watch towers, electronic sensors, thermal imaging and video cameras, unmanned aerial vehicles, sniper towers, and roads for patrol vehicles.
The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign’s most recent map of the Wall’s path, finalized November 2003, reveals that if completed in its entirety, nearly 50% of the West Bank population will be affected by the Wall through loss of land, imprisonment into ghettos, or isolation into Israeli de facto annexed areas1 .
Israel maintains that the Wall is a temporary structure to physically separate the West Bank from Israel and thus to prevent suicide attacks on Israeli citizens. However the wall’s location, (in some places reaching up to 6km inside Palestinian territory), and projected length, (currently 750km, despite a border with Israel of less than 200km), suggest it is more realistically an additional effort to confiscate Palestinian land, facilitate further colony expansion and unilaterally redraw geopolitical borders all the while encouraging an exodus of Palestinians by denying them the ability to earn a living from their land, reach their schools or work places, access adequate water resources, or reach essential health care.
Moving the Border Perhaps undue attention has been given to the wall, primarily because it is assumed it follows the Green Line - the internationally recognized border that existed between Israel and the West Bank until the war of 1967.
In fact the wall does not coincide with the Green line but cuts deep into the West Bank – in some areas it is located as much as six kilometres from the green line.
According to a December report by the Palestinian Monitoring Group only 9% of the total wall length calculated to date (752km) will follow the Green Line.
Sharon is using the project to unilaterally redraw the political boundary between Israel and the West Bank, further diminishing the land of Palestine and rendering unfeasible any future Palestinian state.
On 31 July, the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced the completion of the first phase of the security barrier, officially launched on 16 June 2002. The first stage comprises a 145 kilometer long section extending from Salem checkpoint in the northwest Jenin district, through the Tulkarm and Qalqilya governorates, to Masha village in the Salfit area. Though this section is officially complete destruction has continued in the area, as further extensions of the Wall are taking place to enable Israel’s annexation of land occupied by settlements.
• Land Confiscation and destruction
The path that the wall is taking through the West Bank is resulting in massive land confiscation, de facto annexation, and destruction of cultivated lands. So far the completed section has appropriated 107 square kilometers of Palestinian land constituting 1.9% of the West Bank. If the entire wall is completed it is projected that more than 43% of the West Bank will be taken by Israel and will be located outside the wall which will serve to enclose the remaining 57% in Ghettos2.
So far the fence construction has already uprooted an estimated 102,3203 Palestinian olive and citrus trees, demolished 75 acres of greenhouses and 23 miles of irrigation pipes4 . It now rests on 15,000 dunums of confiscated land, and its projection guarantees the confiscation of a further 120-150,000 dunums.
The Wall is only meters away from a number of small villages, or hamlets, which have been told by the military that proximity to the Wall, will render most of their community to be demolished. To date some 218 buildings have been demolished in the village of Nazlat 'Isa, the majority of which have been stores, an important source of income and survival for a number of communities; 5 homes have also been demolished for the Wall. At least an additional 75 stores, 20 factories, 20 homes, and 1 primary school have demolition orders which are expected to take place in the very near future5.
The damage caused by the destruction of land and property for the Wall's construction is irreversible and undermines Palestinians' ability to ever recover.
• Palestinians trapped between wall and green line
Currently the wall carves off about 123,000 dunums6 of land from the Palestinian side of the Green Line. This land amounts to about 2% of the West Bank, and contains at least 16 Palestinian villages and 12,000 residents, according to Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups and the World Bank. This number will rise to 395,000 if all sections of the wall are completed – 17.8% of the Palestinian population 7.
As of the 2 October the area between the wall and the Green Line has been declared a "closed military zone” and a haphazard permit system introduced. The orders require approximately 7,000 residents in these closed areas to apply for permits to remain living in their homes. These permits are valid for up to six months and have turned a right of Palestinians to live in their own homes into a privilege. The Wall will further restrict farmers living outside this 'closed zone' from getting to their land within it. Medical staff and international humanitarian organizations also have to apply for special permits. The military orders exempt Israeli citizens and internationals of Jewish descent from these requirements8.
• Palestinians separated from land, resources and family
The fence has relocated a great deal of rich farmland and water wells to the Israeli side of the wall. At least 115 Palestinian towns and villages have so far been directly affected by the wall which cuts them off from their land and resources. Of the 47 Palestinian towns and villages along phase one of the wall's route 21 are separated from more than half of their land by the fence9. 36 groundwater wells and over 200 cisterns are isolated from their communities by the Wall with an additional 14 wells threatened for demolition in the Wall's "buffer zone"10.
The land confiscation, destruction, and severe restriction of movement will mean the loss of at least 6,500 jobs. Israeli closures and the Wall around the communities in the Tulkarem district prevent residents from traveling for employment, which has caused the unemployment rate to swell from 18% in 2000 to 78% in the spring of 2003 11 .
• Implications for health and education
The wall will significantly impair access of Palestinians in isolated villages to hospitals, particularly in Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, and East Jerusalem. 71 primary health clinics will be isolated from the rest of the West Bank between the wall and the green line or in areas enclaved by the depth barrier. These clinics whilst essential providers of primary health care are not fully equipped to serve the surrounding communities. For instance they do not have delivery rooms, or specialized doctors. For more information on the Wall’s impact on health please see: Health and Segregation: The impact of the Israeli Separation Wall on access to health care services (Report issued by The Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute (HDIP)).
The constricted movement and isolation caused by the barrier has also affected the educational system in the West Bank. A recent report released by the Ministry of Education asserted that 2,898 students from the governorates of Jenin, Tulkarem and Qalqilya, were not able to continue their education, as a direct result of the Apartheid Wall.
• The depth Barriers
The wall is not a simple construction, nor is it a single entity. Around communities close to the green line, an additional barrier is being constructed, referred to as the “depth barrier”; this trench, which is intended to further lock down Palestinian movement, will be approximately 25m wide and full of barb wire. According to UNWRA 15 communities will be affected, numbering approximately 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals12.
According to Stop The Wall Campaign such a ‘depth barrier’ in the Ramallah district will see a second wall built in conjunction with one already running deep into the West Bank. The two walls will thereby enclose and isolate 25 villages, over 67,000 Palestinian residents, thus imprisoning and restricting communities with high urban growth, severely limiting expansion and development.
The mid-section of the wall approved by the Israeli cabinet at the beginning of October 2003 will stretch 230km, from Biddya to Beituniya. The construction of this section alone will isolate 350 square kilometers of Palestinian land, placing 58 communities, between the wall and the Green Line. The walls path will further impact upon 108 other communities who will lose land and access to essential resources.
“The Wall has all the features of a permanent structure. The fact that it will incorporate half of the settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem suggests that it is designed to further entrench the position of the settlers. The evidence strongly suggests that Israel is determined to create facts on the ground amounting to de facto annexation”.
Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights
As the fence began reaching into the West Bank, settlers and religious groups sought to have the route drawn so that as many settlements as possible would be on the Israeli side.
The complete construction of the wall will see 5413 illegal Israeli settlements, built on Palestinian West Bank land, and 142,000 settlers incorporated into Israel.
Ariel Sharon's cabinet looks set to insist this phase of construction be routed 13 miles into the West Bank to put Ariel, a settlement with about 20,000 residents, on the Israeli side of the fence.
• The Jerusalem Envelope
This section of the wall has received its name because of the divisions it is creating. When complete the wall will be approximately 70 kilometers long and will cut off an estimated 249,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. The route of the wall is linked with bypass roads and settlements, together forming an efficient barrier from Ramallah to Bethlehem through the neighborhood of Abu Dis, de facto annexing 5.6% of the West Bank.
Approximately 33 kilometers of the "Jerusalem envelope" have been constructed: in the north four kilometers from Kalandia checkpoint to Opher military camp in the Ramallah area, and the rest from Gilo settlement to Beit Sahur in the Bethlehem area. According to PENGON, "the northern Jerusalem Wall is isolating 15,000 Jerusalem ID holders, living in Kufr Aqab and Qalandiya Refugee Camp from the city, their familial and social ties, and public services.
To facilitate easy access for the illegal settler communities of East Jerusalem a ring road is now being built, connecting the various settlements to one another and to Jerusalem whilst encircling the Palestinian neighborhoods. More than 658 dunnums of land will be confiscated for the purpose alone, and approximately 40 Palestinian homes will be demolished, leaving the remaining residents trapped between roads and walls.
THE EASTERN BARRIER
Plans for the eastern section of the Wall to run through the Jordan Valley will isolate over 20 villages while additional barriers will encircle Jericho into an isolated prison. Thirty kilometers of the 45 km stretch from Salem to Taysir are currently under construction. The Ministry of Defense states that this section will be completed by the end of this year.
The eastern wall will lead to a complete encirclement of Palestinian land – and the effective creation of three Bantustan areas.
• Imprisoned Towns and Cities
Not only does the wall not follow the 1967 Green Line, in places it folds in on itself creating some 22 separate enclaves – areas where people will be totally surrounded by wall. The northern West Bank city of Qalqilya is a major Palestinian municipality. With a population of more than 42,000 it is also the hub for 32 nearby villages comprising a further 90,000 people who rely on the city for health and education services.
The city has been completely surrounded by 8.7 miles of fences and high walls with guard towers. There is now one main entrance for people and goods and two agricultural gates. Only 13 permits have been issued for farmers to visit the 938 acres of Palestinian owned land and the 19 wells situated outside the fence, (according to Zahran)
• The Gaza Wall
The Gaza strip has more or les been surrounded by a fence since parts of the territory was given over to Palestinian control in 1994. The IDF has since then controlled all access to and from the area through the 6 Checkpoints or gates in the fence. Now a new 55km long, 8 meter high, electrified, barrier is also planned for Gaza. To date 7 kilometers have been completed (Al-Ahram).
• Gates and Checkpoints
The villagers that are isolated by the construction of the wall are completely dependent upon soldier’s willingness to let them pass through a limited number of gates. Israeli officials said 41 agricultural gates have been installed in the completed 145km of phase one to allow Palestinian farmers access to their lands. In fact only 23 gates have been constructed so far and the free access through those is already limited and sporadic.
These gates are yet another aspect of the Israeli apparatus of closure, sieges, curfews and 73414 checkpoints that have been a long time in use to curtail freedom of movement, depriving whole communities access to health, education and work. The wall is institutionalizing the stranglehold on these communities and solidifying the denial of basic human rights.
Legalities under international law
Israel’s construction of the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank constitutes a grave violation of human rights and international law. The construction of the wall within the West Bank, and the annexation of occupied land is prohibited under the laws governing actions of occupying powers; the wall’s construction further violates a basic principal of the laws of occupation that legal rights to land cannot be acquired by way of military occupation. International law also states that private property cannot be confiscated or destroyed. This applies without exception, not even for security needs15.
The wall has become yet another instrument used to impose collective punishment upon the civilian population and directly violates the rights of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians including their rights to freedom of movement, right to property, right to health, education, work and their basic rights to food and water. The Israeli construction of the apartheid wall and its implications for the Palestinian people is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions of which Israel is a contracting party.
8 December – The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's construction of the barrier. The case will now be heard at the International Court of Justice on Monday February 23rd in The Hague.
(1) Updated Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Poster Map Map, PALDIS for the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, November 21st, 2003
(2) Palestine Monitoring Group Trend Analysis, Israeli Separation Wall
Activity Update December 10, 2003
(3) Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Fact Sheet The Wall's "First Phase"
(4) The Wall In Palestine: Facts, Testimonies, Analysis and Call to Action PENGON June 2003
(5) Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Fact Sheet The Wall's "First Phase"
(6) One dunum = 1,000 square meters = ¼ acre
(7) Palestine Monitoring Group Trend Analysis, Israeli Separation Wall Activity Update December 10, 2003
(8) Severe humanitarian consequences of new Wall - OCHA report (15 December 2003)
(9) The impact of the first phase of security barrier on Palestinian refugees Report, UNRWA, 2 October 2003
(10) Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Fact Sheet The Wall's "First Phase"
(11) Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Fact Sheet The Wall's "First Phase"
(12) The impact of the first phase of security barrier on Palestinian refugees Report, UNRWA, 2 October 2003
(13) OCHA report December 2003
(14) OCHA report December 2003
(15) Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign Fact Sheet The Wall and International Law
Frequently Asked Questions:
Israel has recently announced that it will “isolate” Palestinians from Israelis (both inside Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories) by erecting “walls” and “buffer zones” in a plan styled “unilateral separation.”
1. What’s wrong with Israel’s unilateral separation and the construction of a wall?
The wall will not be built on Israel’s border.  Israel has already announced that it will build the wall to the east of Israel’s border in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, thereby de facto annexing more Palestinian land. The strategy is to annex as much Palestinian land as possible while militarily caging in as many Palestinians as possible, all in an attempt to continue Israel’s colonization and occupation of Palestinian land. At the same time, Israel will effectively isolate Palestinian population centers from one another, and restrict not only freedom of movement of individuals but also of goods and services, thereby worsening an already crippled Palestinian economy.
2. Where is Israel planning to build the wall?
Israel will build the wall east of Israel’s 1967 border in Occupied Palestinian Territory, thereby de facto annexing more Palestinian land, in particular with respect to Occupied East Jerusalem.
Not only will Israel build a wall, Israel has also begun erecting militarily-enforced electrified fences around Palestinian controlled “Areas A” (consisting of approximately 17.2% of the West Bank divided into 13 separate non-contiguous ghettos). The wall, the fences and the new movement restrictions for Palestinians effectively cage Palestinians into Israeli-created ghettos or Bantustans.
Israel is not building the wall on the 1967 border. Israeli governments led by both Labor and Likud have repeatedly stated that Israel will not return to the pre-1967 border.
3. Isn’t the wall necessary for Israel’s security?
No. The wall is not protecting Israeli citizens inside Israel, it is instead protecting Israel’s occupation, illegal colonies and ongoing colonization of Palestinian land. If Israel is truly interested in its security it will do one or both of the following: (1) withdraw completely from all of the territories it occupied in 1967 or (2) place additional security on its internationally-recognized border, rather than in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Israel has long had the formula for peace and security – end the occupation. In exchange for its complete withdrawal from Palestinian and other Arab land occupied in 1967, Israel will live in peace and in security. Despite the fact that peace and normalization were recently offered to Israel by the entire Arab world during the Arab League Summit of March 2002, Israel walked away from this gesture, demonstrating that it prefers land and colonization to peace and security.
4. What is Israel really trying to do by building a wall?
Israel is attempting to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories by establishing militarily-enforced Palestinian ghettos corresponding to the Palestinian population centers, while continuing its illegal colonization policy. The walls will ensure that Palestinians are denied the ability to move, while Israeli settlers will be able to freely travel throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Unilateral separation and walls will also ensure that Occupied East Jerusalem is completely sealed off from the rest of the Occupied West Bank, in violation of international law, UN Resolutions and the stated policy of the United States.
5. Is Israel’s unilateral separation legal under international law?
No. Unilateral separation violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, including the following obligations which cannot be abrogated by invoking “military necessity”:
1. Prohibition on the Use of Collective Punishment:
No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 33(1))
The wall will serve to divide the Occupied Palestinian Territories with movement from one area to another controlled entirely by the Israeli army, in effect punishing the entire Palestinian population. Jewish Israelis illegally living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will, however, enjoy total freedom of movement.
1. Prohibition Against Annexation:
Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 47)
Israel will de facto annex additional areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
6. Is Israel’s unilateral separation legal under the Oslo Agreements?
No, unilateral separation violates the Oslo Agreements.
· Obligation to Preserve the Territorial Integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territories:
The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during the interim period. (Interim Agreement, Chapter 2, Article XI)
The construction of a wall within the Occupied Palestinian Territories violates the territorial integrity of the West Bank.
· Prohibition Against Restricting Freedom of Movement:
Without derogating from Israel’s security powers and responsibilities in accordance with this Agreement, movement of people, vehicles and goods in the West Bank, between cities, towns, villages and refugee camps, will be free and normal and shall not need to be effected through checkpoints or roadblocks. (Interim Agreement, Annex I, Article IX, para 2(a))
Israel’s security powers, with respect to freedom of movement, extend only to prohibiting or limiting the entry into Israel of persons and of vehicles from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Building a wall within the Occupied West Bank affects Palestinian freedom of movement not only into Israel, but also within and throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
7. What is the international community doing to stop this?
Nothing that has had any effect. The Fourth Geneva Convention obliges the international community to ensure that the Convention, the primary purpose of which is to protect a population under occupation, is respected:
The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 1)
Despite the fact that these actions are illegal under international law and the Oslo Agreements, the international community has not stopped Israel. The international community continues to teach Israel that it is above the law.
 Aluf Benn, PM okays Green Line border fence, Ha’aretz, June 4, 2002 at 1: “The major change was that the fence…would run east of a number of settlements on the seam, as well as east of the Palestinian settlements (sic) of Kfar Barta and Baka al Sharkia…”
 See PLO, Fact Sheet: Palestinian Movement Restrictions Highlight Israeli Apartheid, http://www.nad-plo.org Israel recently announced that Palestinians now need to obtain permits issued by the Israeli Army for travel between Palestinian cities within the Occupied West Bank. These permits, reminiscent of South African “passbooks,” effectively imprison Palestinians into ghettos.
 Even the “left” leaders of Israel have stated that Israel will never abide by international law by returning to its 1967 border:
There must be physical separation from the Palestinians, with us being here and them being there, in accordance with four security red lines . . . We need peace and separation on the ground. Jerusalem will remain united under Israel's sovereignty forever. Period. Second, there will be no return to the 1967 borders on any account. Third, there will be no foreign army west of the Jordan River. Fourth, most of the Israeli settlers in Judea and Samaria will be clustered in large settlement blocs. ---Barak on Israel Television's Channel 1, December 27, 1998
Barak’s 1998 separation plan is very similar to what he tried to impose at the Camp David peace talks in July 2000 (see PLO, Frequently Asked Questions: Camp David Peace Proposal, http://www.nad-plo.org ) and what he later proposed in December 2001.
 For additional information, see PLO, Fact Sheet: Gilo- Jewish “Neighborhood” or War Crime?, http://www.nad-plo.org
Bad Fences Make Bad Neighbors - Part II
Focus on Qalqilya
PLO Negotiations Affairs Department
5 December, 2002
When Ariel Sharon was asked by Winston S. Churchill III, grandson of the former British prime minister, in 1973 how Israel will deal with the Palestinians, he responded: “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them, we’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years’ time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”
On April 15, 2002, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon announced that he will “isolate” Palestinians from Israelis by erecting “walls” and “buffer zones” in a plan styled “unilateral separation.” The strategy is to expropriate as much Palestinian land as possible while militarily caging in as many Palestinians as possible, all in an attempt to continue Israel’s colonization and occupation of Palestinian land and water resources. At the same time, Israel will effectively isolate Palestinian population centers from one another. One of the cities most affected by this plan is Qalqilya where the wall highlights Israel’s increasingly visible apartheid regime.
Facts on Qalqilya
The governorate of Qalqilya is comprised of 32 villages with approximately 72,000 Palestinians and 19 illegal Israeli colonies with an estimated illegal Israeli settler population of 50,700 (as of January 1, 2000).
The city of Qalqilya has approximately 40,000-45,000 Palestinian residents living on approximately 3,500 dunums of developed land (4 dunums = 1 acre). An additional 6,500 dunums of Qalqilya’s agricultural land surround the city.
Qalqilya sits atop the Western Aquifer Basin, one of the three major aquifer basins in the occupied West Bank. This aquifer basin, which stretches along the Green Line, generates an average sustainable yield of 362 million cubic meters of water annually, and produces approximately half of the Occupied West Bank’s water resources. The Qalqilya Wall, together with the rest of the "security wall", is built in such a way as to give Israel near total control to the highest productive zones of this aquifer basin.
Prior to September 29, 2000, the start of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, 22% of Qalqilya’s economy was based on agricultural produce, including fruit and vegetable orchards, apiaries, greenhouse nurseries and livestock. Today, that figure is 45%, with 2000 agricultural workers supporting approximately 15,000 residents of the occupied city (representing 37.5% of Qalqilya’s total population).
Facts on The Qalqilya Wall
On August 15, 2002, the Sharon government announced its plans for the wall surrounding Qalqilya:
The wall will not be on Israel’s border (the Green Line), but will surround the city on 3 sides on land clearly within the Occupied West Bank.
The 8 meter high wall will be surrounded (i) first by a trench 4 meters wide and 2 meters deep, (ii) then barbed wire and (iii) lastly, a military road that will be patrolled by the Israeli Army.
All Palestinian property (including homes, farms, fields and greenhouses) within 35 meters of the wall has been or will be destroyed by Israel.
Four entrances to the city have already been militarily blocked and the remaining entrance has been turned into a military fortified gateway.
Effect of the Qalqilya Wall
The ultimate goal of erecting this wall is to confiscate and expropriate Palestinian land as well as forcibly impoverishing the Qalqilya residents by denying them means to a livelihood and access to natural resources. The Qalqilya wall has little to do with security:
Approximately 3,000 dunums of agricultural land have been or will be confiscated. This figure represents nearly 50% of the city’s agricultural land. Qalqilya was once known as the West Bank's "bread basket".
Approximately 19 wells in the city will be confiscated, representing approximately 30% of the city’s water supply.
Residents of Qalqilya will be imprisoned in the town, cut off from neighboring Palestinian villages and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Given that 45% of the city’s economy relies on agriculture, land and water confiscation will coerce migration of Qalqilya’s residents eastward, eventually making Israeli annexation of Qalqilya demographically "acceptable".
The Qalqilya Wall Violates the Fourth Geneva Convention
The construction of the Qalqilya wall violates the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition of extensive destruction and expropriation of property located in occupied territory not justified by military necessity. Such destruction and expropriation constitutes a war crime.
Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or co-operative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 53, in conjunction with Article 147)
Israel has often claimed that its “security” mandates the violation of Palestinian rights enshrined under the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, Israel’s reliance on “security” as a means to circumvent the Convention does not relate to the security of the occupying forces or to that of its administration, but to that of the illegal settlers. “Military necessity” cannot be invoked to defend violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, such as Israel’s implementation and maintenance of illegal Israeli colonies. To turn violations into rights and consequently invoke the underlying principles of the Fourth Geneva Convention, such as military necessity, to legitimize and even defend the establishment and expansion of the violation is an affront to international law in general as well as to the Fourth Geneva Convention in particular.
The Qalqilya wall violates the central obligation of the Occupying Power to guarantee the well being and basic sustenance for the occupied civilian population.
It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, …whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Protocol I, Article 54)
The extensive appropriation and destruction of land and property, especially fertile agricultural land and water, deprives and effectively dispossesses the Palestinian population of their basic sources of income and livelihood
The Qalqilya wall violates the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition of collective punishment.
No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 33)
The Qalqilya wall punishes the entire population of the city and therefore violates the Convention’s absolute prohibition of collective punishment. According to the authoritative Commentary of the Fourth Geneva Convention: “During past conflicts, the infliction of collective penalties has been intended to forestall breaches of the law rather than to repress them; in resorting to intimidatory measures to terrorize the population, the belligerents hoped to prevent hostile acts. Far from achieving the desired effect, however, such practices, by reason of their excessive severity and cruelty, kept alive and strengthened the spirit of resistance. They strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice…”
The International Community is obligated to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention:
The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances. (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 1)
The international community has failed to fulfill its obligation to enforce international law, promoting Israeli intransigence by teaching Israel that it may violate the law with impunity and reinforcing the sense of abandonment prevalent in the Palestinian population. It is time that the international community stop tacitly recognizing and accommodating continuing Israeli violations which target an increasingly helpless civilian population.
The Qalqilya Wall Violates the Oslo Agreements:
The Qalqilya wall violates the Oslo Agreements’ prohibition of denial of free movement:
Without derogating from Israel’s security powers and responsibilities in accordance with this Agreement, movement of people, vehicles and goods in the West Bank, between cities, towns, villages and refugee camps, will be free and normal and shall not need to be effected through checkpoints or roadblocks.” (Interim Agreement, Annex I, Article IX, para 2(a))
Israel’s security powers, with respect to freedom of movement, extend only to prohibiting or limiting the entry into Israel of persons and of vehicles from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Qalqilya wall affects Palestinian freedom of movement not only into Israel, but also within the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Qalqilya wall violates the Oslo Agreements’ requirement to preserve the territorial integrity of the Occupied Palestinian Territories:
The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during the interim period. (Interim Agreement, Chapter 2, Article XI)
The Qalqilya wall will cut off Qalqilya from other Palestinian cities thereby destroying the territorial integrity of the West Bank.
The Qalqilya wall violates the Oslo Agreements’ prohibition against either side changing the status of the Occupied Palestinian Territories:
Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations. (Interim Agreement, Chapter 5, Article XXXI)
The Qalqilya wall constitutes an Israeli unilateral action that changes the status of the West Bank by de facto annexation of West Bank land on the western side of the wall and by imposing a de facto border prior to the conclusion of permanent status negotiations.