- In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
ruled the Separation Wall illegal, saying its route inside the West Bank,
and associated gate and permit system, violated Israel's obligations under
international law, ordering the completed sections dismantled, and "all
legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto" repealed
- or rendered "ineffective forthwith."
- The ICJ also mandated reparations for the "requisition
and destruction of homes, businesses, and agricultural holdings (and) to
return the land, orchards, olive groves, and other immovable property seized,"
obligating member states to reject the illegal construction and demand
Israel comply with international law.
- Most nations ignored the ruling. Israel defied it and
continued building, now 61% finished, another 8% under construction, and
the remaining 31% planned but not begun. When completed, its expected to
be over 800 km, twice the length of the Green Line, four times as long
as the Berlin Wall, and in some places twice as high on about 12% of stolen
Palestinian land, its erection devastating the people affected.
- Based on its current route, about 33,000 Palestinians
with West Bank ID cards in 36 communities will be located between the Wall
and the Green Line, in the so-called Seam Zone along with most East Jerusalemites.
Another 126,000 in 31 communities will be surrounded on three sides, and
28,000 more in nine communities entirely, with a tunnel or road connection
to the West Bank, requiring hard to get permits to access.
- In July, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs released a Special Report titled, "The Impact of the Barrier
on Health," especially patient and staff access to East Jerusalem's
specialized medical facilities (unavailable in Gaza or the West Bank) because
of the Wall's intrusive route and associated permit/gate system.
- Restricted Access to Land and Livelihoods
- Since October 2003, Palestinians "have been obliged
to obtain 'visitor' permits to access" their own Seam Zone farmland,
also called a "closed military area," another way Israel confiscates
land, a recent military order keeping residents of four villages off their
land. Beit Ula's mayor said farmers had to evacuate over five square km
and abandon their equipment to make way for Separation Wall construction.
- To access any restricted areas, including their own property,
Palestinians must submit documents proving a "connection to the land"
to satisfy security considerations. Entry, by permit only, is then channelled
through official access points, gates or other checkpoints, 57 open daily,
seasonally or on a seasonal/weekly basis with unannounced closures possible
- Most open only during olive harvest season, and for limited
daytime periods, farmers required to leave by late afternoon or early evening,
denied needed time to plough, prune, fertilize, control weeds and pests,
harvest, and live freely.
- Because of the permit system, the difficulty getting
them, the gates and other checkpoints, and limited working hours, agriculture
and rural livelihoods have suffered, especially in the northern West Bank
from 2006 - mid-2009 where permit issuance "sharply decreased."
- In January 2009, "closed area" designation
extended south to Ramallah, Hebron, and parts of Salfit, Bethlehem and
Jerusalem. Previously, farmers only needed ID cards. Now they need permits.
For example, 470 Hebron area farmers applied during the 2009 olive harvest
season, 100 of them denied, in contrast to 2008 when about 1,500 farmers
- In the Ramallah governorate, most farmers objected, refusing
to apply. As a result, six of 10 gates and checkpoints remain virtually
deserted, a similar situation in the Jerusalem area where only seven farmers
got permits, the others also refusing.
- Lack of Seam Zone Emergency Medical Care
- The Wall and gate system affect thousands of farmers
and their ability to access medical care any time, especially for emergencies,
those at night particularly worrisome when gates are closed until scheduled
openings. Further, vehicle restrictions require transportation by horse,
mule or tractor, causing delays and long detours over rugged terrain.
- Since 2003, about 10,000 northern West Bank residents
in closed areas have needed permits to live in their own homes and reach
hospitals, health clinics, schools, workplaces, friends and relatives.
Doctors, ambulances, mobile teams and other health professionals are also
impeded from reaching the sick or injured.
- Barta'a straddles the Green Line in the northern Wadi
Ara region near Jenin. Council member Abu Rami, responsible for coordinating
with Israeli authorities, lost his mother at a checkpoint because security
guards ordered her ambulance sent back. As a result, he relates to others
in need saying:
- "I deal almost daily with cases of sick people who
need to cross the checkpoint. Anyone who cannot walk needs special coordination
with the Israelis as well as anyone who has to cross (at) night when (it's)
closed. Expectant mothers leave the village weeks before (giving) birth,
just to make sure (they can) reach the hospital in time." What used
to be a 15-minute drive to Jenin, now takes about an hour or longer.
- "I know the procedure and I have all the telephone
numbers," he said. Yet, "I could not even save my own mother."
- Access to East Jerusalem Hospitals
- Its six hospitals provide most specialized care to West
Bank residents, unavailable to most Gazans under siege, including dialysis,
oncology, open-heart surgery, neurosurgery, neonatal intensive care, eye
surgery, and rehabilitation for handicapped children.
- Restricted access began prior to the Wall's construction.
In 1993, Israel required permits for non-East Jerusalemites, including
for medical care. At the time, doctors needed permission from the Palestinian
Ministry of Health's Referral Abroad Department (RAD) to access hospitals.
If granted, the convoluted procedure required patients to arrange appointments,
RAD or the hospital then needing Israeli Civil Administration permits to
- The combination of illness and stress waiting for permit
issuance or denial is further complicated when multiple visits or operations
are required. In addition, males aged 15 - 30 are often denied for security
reasons, and parents are impeded from getting treatment for sick children
or family members.
- Permits are also invalid during closure periods - 50
occurring from April 2009 - March 2010 for "security alerts"
or Israeli holidays, and unannounced ones can occur any time.
- Before the Wall's construction, permits were enforced
at checkpoints and random spot checks. However, they weren't required to
access Jerusalem, especially on foot. Since 2007, however, West Bank residents
may only do so through three of 14 checkpoints at Qalandiya, Gilo and Zaytoun
- the procedure time-consuming and challenging, especially during rush
hours when queues are long, resulting in delays up to two hours or more.
- Nonetheless, nearly half of all patients (over 19,000
or 365 a week) were referred to East Jerusalem hospitals for specialized
care, up from 26% in 2006, despite vehicles with Palestinian license plates
denied entry through checkpoints, creating added hardships for the sick,
those unable to walk, or do it easily.
- The Wall also affects East Jerusalemites, residing in
neighborhoods like Kafr'Aqab and the Shu'fat Refugee Camp, now separated
from the city. In addition, delays impede ambulances from reaching these
communities, a serious problem when emergencies arise.
- Also for patients needing same day access, the required
procedure involving the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to request
permission from the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCL). If gotten,
then for authorization through a specific checkpoint, and back-to-back
ambulances, West Bank ones denied Jerusalem entry.
- Even then, delays are common. In 2009, PRCS recorded
440, including ambulance denials, mostly for Jerusalem. Medical staff
are also impacted, despite special permit stamps once facilitating passage
through any checkpoint. However, what used to be 15-minute trips now take
two hours or longer, and if checkpoints are closed or queues especially
long, they're interminable, now worse since November 2008 after Israel
implemented new restrictions, obliging West Bank staff working in East
Jerusalem to enter through three designated points.
- Only doctors may use them all, not nurses or other staff.
They must cross on foot and use public transportation to reach hospitals,
resulting in long delays and occasional denials, severely disrupting efficient
operations and the health of patients.
- Medical students are also affected, about 160 in their
fourth, fifth and sixth years of study at Al Quds medical school, eligible
for training at East Jerusalem hospitals. About 90% live in the West Bank
so need permits to access training in pediatrics, neonatology, surgery,
cardiology, internal medicine and other areas - available only in East
- Yet in June 2010, Al Quds medical school reported that
11 students were denied permit renewals, preventing their essential training.
- Final Comments
- Long before Separation Wall construction began in 2002,
West Bank and East Jerusalem residents suffered horrifically under what
Israeli Professor and Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (ICAHD) Jeff Halper calls a "Matrix of Control" comprised
- -- illegal settlements on expropriated land;
- -- closed military zones;
- -- exclusively Jewish industrial parks and other development;
- -- control of all natural resources, including aquifers;
- -- checkpoints and other barriers;
- -- control of border crossings;
- -- exclusively Jewish bypass roads;
- -- national parks;
- -- a nightmarish bureaucracy, requiring permits for free
movement within and outside the territory, home and other construction,
agriculture, business licensing, and more;
- -- a repressive military occupation enforced by intimidation,
violence, home invasions, arrests, torture, and targeted assassinations;
- -- the Separation Wall, severely impacting normal West
Bank/East Jerusalem life, on 12% of expropriated Palestinian land when
completed, isolating communities, farmers from their fields, the sick from
medical care, children from school, workers from jobs, and families from
friends and relatives - intrusive, outrageous, illegal, and essential for
global outrage to expose, denounce, and demand stoppage, demolition, and
ICJ mandated reparations for the "requisition and destruction of homes,
businesses....agricultural holdings....orchards, olive groves....other
moveable property," and return of stolen land.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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