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The Apartheid Wall


JERUSALEM: As the government of the Jewish state forces the Palestinians in ghettos, history must be turning in its grave. Qalqiliya, a city of 45,000, has been surrounded by a concrete wall and only those who are granted permits by the Civil Administration can enter and exit the city’s single gate.

Along the West Bank’s north western border, an additional 12,000 people are now living in enclaves between the wall and the pre-1967 border. They too have become captives; yet the so-called security wall does not separate these Palestinian residents from Jewish Israelis, but rather from their brethren in the West Bank.

After placing them on small “islands,” Israel is now “encouraging” them to leave their ancestral homes by undermining their infrastructure of existence. The goal, so it seems, is to annex the land uninhabited.

More recently, another 15-km of the wall were approved to be built in the midst of East Jerusalem. A wall, eight meter high, will cut between houses in the middle of such neighborhoods as Sawahra, Azarieh, and Abu Dis. A new Berlin wall in the making, only this time in the holy city.

This wall will ultimately place approximately 35,000 Palestinians in a ghetto. Not only will they be isolated from their source of livelihood, but the sick will not be able to reach hospitals and the children will not be able to reach schools. Even the cemeteries will be out of bounds.

Think about it, once this Apartheid wall is completed, many Palestinian parents will be living on one side while their adult children will be living on the other. Families will be torn apart.

The wall dividing East Jerusalem clearly exposes Israel’s lie, revealing that security is not the government’s real objective. To put it simply, how will a wall that separates between Palestinian communities ensure the security of Jewish Israelis?

The facts on the ground lay bare that the Apartheid wall, which was ostensibly built to satisfy security needs, is in fact being used as an extremely efficient weapon of dispossession and abuse. Rhetoric aside, the Palestinians’ land is being stolen, basic rights to freedom of movement and livelihood are systematically violated, and the rights to education, health and even burial are contravened. The instruments of violation are not only guns, tanks and airplanes, but Caterpillar bulldozers and Fiat tractors.

If the wall is completed, then 50 percent of the West Bank will be annexed to Israel, and there will be no possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state. The planned new Wall will be approximately 687 km long and the chair of the Knesset Economics Committee estimates that it will cost $ 3.4 billion, that is, US$ 4.7 million per kilometer.

Moreover, it will not solve Israel’s security problems, but rather exacerbate them. By engendering extreme pressure on the Palestinian people, who are already living under dire circumstances, it fosters their sense that there are no prospects for the future, thus motivating people to join extremist groups like the Hamas and Islamic Jihad; indeed, the wall only increases the hatred towards the occupiers and promotes bloody attacks.

What baffles the Israeli peace camp is the international silence. A state among nations is placing thousands of people in ghettoes, forcing them to live in subhuman conditions, and not even a murmur of protest can be heard from the world leaders.

After commemorating — on November 9 — the 14th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall and the 65th anniversary of “Kristallnacht,” the state orchestrated pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany, these international leaders need to raise their voice against the Apartheid wall and 36 years of Israeli occupation. They should tell Prime Minister Sharon that he has an option between walls and ethnic cleansing, on the one hand, and open borders and freedom, on the other. They should also let him know, in unequivocal terms, that they will use all necessary means to ensure that Israel will choose the latter.


Neve Gordon teaches politics and human rights at Ben-Gurion University and can be reached at [email protected]

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