The Israeli West Bank Wall is a separation barrier built by Israel in the West Bank or along the 1949 Armistice Line (“Green Line”). Upon completion, its total length will be approximately 700 kilometres.
About 90-95% of the barrier has been constructed as a multi-layered fence system with the IDF’s preferred design having three fences, pyramid-shaped stacks of barbed wire on the two outer fences, a lighter-weight fence with intrusion detection equipment in the middle, an anti-vehicle ditch, patrol roads on both sides, and a smooth strip of sand for “intrusion tracking”. Wall construction is more common in urban settings, and in areas where people have been killed by snipers.
Israel argues that it protects civilians from Palestinian terrorism such as suicide bombing attacks which increased significantly during the Second Intifada.
The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, reduction of the number of Israel Defense Forces checkpoints, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel, restricted access to water sources, and economic effects.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 15 communities were to be directly affected, numbering approximately 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals. In addition to loss of land, in the city of Qalqilyah one-third of the city’s water wells lie on the other side of the barrier. The Israeli Supreme Court says the Israeli government’s rejection of accusations of a de facto annexation of these wells, stating that “the construction of the fence does not affect the implementation of the water agreements determined in the (interim) agreement”.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) estimates that in the north of the West Bank approximately 80 per cent of Palestinians who own land on the other side of the barrier have not received permits from the Israeli authorities, and hence cannot cultivate their fields.
According to the international Court of Justice “Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall”. The Court asserted that “the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, violates international law”.