The Israel Separation Barrier
Security Wall or Confinement Wall?
The "Separation Barrier" is not an isolated issue; it is the culminating issue of a suspect agenda. The suspect agenda has Israel creating settlements that intrude on Palestinian life and provoke Palestinian militants to terrorist actions. The terrorist actions are then used as a reason for constructing a barrier, a security wall whose intention shields aggressive responses to Israel's territorial ambitions in the West Bank.
Expropriation of Palestinian lands deep in the West Bank for use in Israel's "Separation Barrier," also called The Security Wall, has emphasized Israel's transgressions on Palestinian life and property. The United Nations (UN) overwhelmingly voted (144 to 4) a resolution that demands a stop to construction of the barrier and removal of the sections already completed. A UN Report concludes that "Palestinian families and communities are being separated from each other. Communities adjacent to Jerusalem are being cut off from the city, which they rely on for commerce, work and essential social services." Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland summarized the warnings and consternation:
That is the word that President Bush should say with force and conviction to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Otherwise Sharon is likely to charge ahead and turn security measures conceived to protect Israelis into instruments of brutalization of Palestinians and expropriation of their property.
Jim Hoagland: The Washington Post. Oct 26, 2003. pg. B.07
The route and shape of the "Separation Barrier" heightens the suspicions of the agenda and leads to a question -- Is the barrier construction bringing on the economic and social destruction of the Palestinian people? The answer to this question starts with an examination of the settlements.
The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies." Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (August 12, 1949)
The settlements, declared illegal by several UN resolutions and deemed as possible war crimes, were started by a Labor government immediately after the 1967 war and have steadily increased with each Israeli government. The infrastructure of buildings, roads, and utilities have encroached upon the physical, social and economic well being of the Palestinians. The derogatory effects on Palestinian life have angered the populace, motivated them to protective actions and impelled some of the more frustrated to terrorist attacks. The settlements
- provide no economic benefit to Israel.
- are a major economic liability. (Haaretz , Oct.29,2003 estimates the cost of the settlements at more than 45 billion Israel Sterling ($10 billion) since 1967.)
- can only provide living room for an Israel population if Israel annexes the West Bank.
- require a military presence for defense, and
- have been a principal cause of the terrorism against Israelis.
Israel's newspaper Haaretz debates the need for the settlements:
The history of the settlements is rife with the language of deceit. Now, with the road map clear to all, there is no more room for mendacity and prevarication. Most of the settlements will not end up under Israeli sovereignty. The wasting of precious national resources on them must be put to an end. Haaretz Oct.29, 2003.
Israeli governments have claimed they want peace and continually support the illegal, provocative and costly settlements. If a country's policies, which seem unwarranted and have been declared illegal by the UN, endanger its own citizens, it must have a disguised motive for the dangerous policies.
The establishment of the settlements as "facts on the ground" is only one part of Israel's strategy that incorporates most, if not all, of the West Bank into Israel. Provocation leading to violence and terrorism is another part of the strategy. Ariel Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount/Haram-esh-Sharif in Sept. 2000, when Laborite Ehud Barak was still premier, ignited the events that completed the strategy.
A Walk on the Mount
If Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount, a dubious affair for a man who had more than thirty years to take the stroll and never did, had a purpose, it must have been to place the Muslims in a dilemma. If the Muslims did not react, would the Barak administration have gone further in its excursions on the Temple Mount/Haram-esh-Sharif? If the Muslims reacted violently, did Israel have an opportunity to counter the violence in a manner that generated more violence? The Jerusalem Muslims chose the latter reaction, which consisted mainly of sticks and stones thrown at Israel military and Western Wall worshipers. Their choice prompted the Israel military to counter-act in a manner that became deadly for the Palestinians.
The Death Toll
Israel's human rights organization B'Tselem has compiled the death toll in the territories and Israel from Sept. 29, 2000, the date on which Ariel Sharon walked on the Temple Mount, until Dec. 31, 2000.
The Israeli military launched heavy attacks against the Palestinians weeks before any terrorist campaign in Israel by Palestinian extremists. Two suicide bombings in Israel during the latter part of November claimed a total of 4 Israeli lives. The B'Tselem statistics verify that Israel started the violence two months before Palestinian extremists resorted to terrorism. The two suicide actions prompted the Israeli cabinet to request new elections and introduce a Sharon government.
WITHIN THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES WITHIN ISRAEL Month Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli security forces Of them: Minors under age 18 Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli civilians Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian civilians Of them: Minors under age 18 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian civilians Of them: Minors under age 18 Sept. (from Sep. 29) 12 4 -- -- -- -- -- October 87 28 2 6 -- -- -- November 100 39 1 7 -- 4 -- December 38 10 3 5 -- -- -- Total 237 81 6 18 -- 4 --
Sharon on the Scene
In a "good guy"/"bad guy" approach to politics, Israel replaced its labor government, that had become the "bad guys," with a Likud government that had become the "good guys." Sharon became the new man of the hour; the leader who would resolve the violent situation and bring peace to the area. Sharon started his path to peace by stopping the Taba, Egypt meetings, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli government were trying to formalize a peace accord.
Ending the search for formal peace accords created additional violence, the opposite to Sharon's election promises. Not achieving promises meant finding a scapegoat. Israel blamed PA leader Arafat, who was practically chained to his desk and made incommunicado by Israeli attacks on Arafat's compound, as being responsible for everything sinister: failed peace accords, violence and suicide bombings. The claim that peace could not be achieved with Arafat in office, and knowledge that Arafat would not leave office, didn't alter Israel's plans; on the contrary, the stalemate allowed Israel to proceed with settlements and additional restraints on Palestinian life.
Blaming Arafat is constantly repeated by Israel's leaders, who attempt to convince the world that peace depends only on Arafat's never settled fate and not on Israel stopping the settlements and oppressive actions. In a recent October 2003 meeting between Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Berlin, FM Shalom reiterated, "Sadly, Yasser Arafat remains a key obstacle to this process. It is clear to us that as long as he remains, there will be no progress towards genuine peace."
Sharon's government has increased the assassinations of Palestinian militants and the attacks on Palestinian communities. During Sharon's reign, Palestinian extremists have increased terrorist actions against Israel's populations. The result -- Israel's announced solution to prevent terrorism against its populace -- construction of a "Separation Barrier."
The Separation Barrier
Israeli authorities have not published an official map of the proposed entire route of the "Separation Barrier." Information leaks, land confiscation and present routes have provided clues to the final routing of the barrier. A drawing shows the "Separation Barrier" accomplishing the following:
- Separating the Palestinian population into several fenced enclaves,
- Routing the fence so that Israeli West Bank settlements become included in Israel,
- Essentially incorporating the Jordan valley into Israel,
- Surrounding West Bank cities of Jericho, Hebron, and Ramallah by Israeli forces.
A closer look at a part of the separation barrier, published by B'Tselem (http://www.btselem.org/), and shown by the red and purple lines, suggests an insidious plan. The West Bank city of Qalqiliya, similar to Tulkharm to the North and other communities to its South, is completely enclosed by a fence.
Inhabitants of these fenced communities are concentrated in defined zones and can move out of the zones only through gates controlled by Israeli military.
Life in all Palestinian communities is being totally controlled. The fence reaches deep into Palestinian lands in order to separate illegal settlements (shown in blue patches) from Palestinian communities (shown in brown patches). Lands have been illegally seized for illegal construction of an illegal barrier that separates Palestinians from illegal Israel settlements and, incidentally from other Palestinian communities, but does not separate Israel from interfering with the Palestinians. Farmers will not be able to till some lands and many olives will not be picked. Israel has already destroyed Palestinian olive groves, hothouses and orchards. In some communities, teachers and students must pass through a gate to get to school. A likely scenario: interruptions and delays of medical emergencies, food for civilians and feed for animals; diminished water supples for drinking and irrigation; relatives, including grown children and parents in disparate communities unable to conveniently visit one another.
The "Separation Barrier" has been a direct result of Israel's creating settlements in selected and planned areas that promoted violence that promoted counter violence that promoted a separation plan that promoted a "Separation Barrier" that promoted the Palestinians being enclosed in separated enclaves. The "Separation Barrier" is not a security plan arising only from recent terrorist actions. All Israeli governments, even those in years that did not experience terrorism, must have participated in the planning.
Israel Government Plans
Israel did not plan the barrier in a short period of time. It takes many years to propose, discuss, design, ratify, develop, gather materials, allocate resources, budget (done in secret), pour concrete and construct a barrier of this enormous size; estimated at a final length of 210 miles or 370 Kms (Baltimore to New York) and a cost of $2.5 billion. (Note: ElectronicIntifada.net estimates the wall length at 403 miles or 650 Kms.) Modern history has no comparison.
During Intifada II, Ariel Sharon insisted he was against any wall that defined boundary lines between Israel and a future Palestinian state, which he claimed he supported. Initially, Sharon commanded a bi-partisan government in which Laborite Shimon Peres had the important position of Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the years of Labor participation in that government, Shimon Peres did nothing concrete to bring the Sharon government to stop the settlements, stop the violence, present peace initiatives and debate the wall. Labor participation in the government, represented by Shimon Peres, were empty words, such as those uttered at a conference panel he chaired in New York's convention center. In answer to a question on Israel oppression of the Palestinian people he said (paraphrased):
We are descendants of people who were in slavery and escaped from bondage. I can assure you that we remember our condition and would not want to oppress any other people.
Shimon Peres and the Labor Party have conveniently become dormant while Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a 'sudden' change of position and is now ardently pursuing construction of the "Separation Barrier," and at a convenient time; when the U.S. and international attention is focused on Iraq. Israel's plans have resulted in the construction of barriers that will bring about the economic and social destruction of the Palestinian people.
Economic and Social Destruction
The "Separation Barrier" disconnects the Palestinian populations that freely wandered a landscape for millennia, concentrates and confines separated parts of them in different areas, surrounds them with fences and military personnel and restricts their movements outside of their confined areas in controlled manners. The dictionary has many definitions for a barrier of this type, none of which is comforting. Palestinians are being barricaded in their ancestral homeland and being physically isolated from other Arab countries. The West Bank Palestinians are completely encircled by the "Separation Barriers" and blocked from contact with neighboring Jordan by the proposed Jordan Valley wall. Include the blockage of Gaza to its sea and to neighboring Egypt by Israeli forces and Israeli settlements, and all Palestinian interchanges, by land, sea and air, depend entirely on Israel largesse.
Although historical situations are never exactly the same, the situation that most resembles the Palestinian condition is the American 19th century policy towards Native American tribes. The American policies occurred before human rights and "might is not right" became accepted guides to international behavior and before communications of events were readily available to all peoples. If similar conditions and policies forecast similar results, the intensity of suffering and eventual fate of the Palestinian people are sadly predictable.
november 1, 2003
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