Two days ago marked the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. However, in the West Bank, there is a wall twice as high and four times as long. Once construction finishes, it will stretch over 440 miles.
While the West Bank does not belong to Israel, Israel regularly annexes it illegally by extending the fence well beyond its borders, usually absorbing the scarce fertile land in the area, demolishing homes and businesses, and taking over the few water resources in the area. Israel has already annexed about 10% of the West Bank in total violation of international law. The wall greatly inhibits movement within the West Bank, increasing the average time for an ambulance to arrive at a hospital from 10 minutes to nearly two hours. Unemployment in the West Bank hardly drops below 20%, and the four-in-five that have a job have experienced greater difficulties reaching their job by the creation of the wall. For example, what would be a 10-minute walk has now become a 3-hour drive to a busy and crowded checkpoint that they may not even be allowed through.
The United Nations in 2005 noted that, “…it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the wall. The wall severs communities, people’s access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities.” Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups have protested both the routing of the wall and the means by which the land to build the wall was obtained. The Red Cross has declared the barrier in violation of the Geneva Convention, and stated that the Israeli barrier “causes serious humanitarian and legal problems” and goes “far beyond what is permissible for an occupying power.” The World Council of Churches demanded that Israel halt and reverse construction on the barrier and strongly condemned “violations of human rights and humanitarian consequences” that resulted from the construction of the barrier, “condemning the wall as an act of unlawful annexation.”
Pictured is the Israel-West Bank barrier, or the apartheid wall.