On 31 July, the Israeli Ministry of Defence announced the completion of the first phase of the security barrier, officially launched on 16 June 2002.(1) The first stage comprises a 123-kilometre-long-section extending from Salem checkpoint in the northwest Jenin district, through the Tulkarm and Qalqilya governorates, to Masha village in the Salfit area. In practice, work is still continuing on the southern section of this phase: the pedestrian and agricultural gates are being installed and the electronic "smart fence", the central component of the system, has yet to become operational. The subsidiary barriers, including deep trenches or "depth barriers" have yet to be built, although construction of the depth barrier around Tulkarm appears to be imminent.(2)
Another stage, approximately 20 kilometres of the "Jerusalem envelope", has been constructed: in the north four kilometres from Kalandia checkpoint to Opher military camp in the Ramallah area, and the rest from Gilo settlement to Beit Sahur in the Bethlehem area. As work is still ongoing it is difficult to gauge the likely effects of this phase, particularly as residents of these areas already have to pass through the Kalandia and Gilo checkpoints to enter Jerusalem. Affected areas in the northern Jerusalem area include A-Ram, Kalandia, Kufr Aqab, El-Bira and Rafat, and the barrier will eventually extend to the Jaba junction. Kalandia camp residents will end up on the "Palestinian" side of the barrier: according to PENGON, "the northern Jerusalem Wall is isolating 15,000 Jerusalem ID holders, living in Kufr Aqab and Qalandiya Refugee Camp from the city, their familial and social ties, and public services."(3) Conversely, Abu Dis, el-Azariya, Anata, Hizma and Beit Iksa will lie on the "Israeli side" of the barrier.(4) Although the US administration has objected to the inclusion of Palestinian areas within the "Jerusalem envelope" it appears that the Israeli authorities are prepared to disregard these objections.(5)
In the Bethlehem area, part of the barrier has been constructed from the Gilo tunnel on Route 60, past Aida Camp, Rachel's Tomb and Har Homa settlement to Route 356 past Beit Sahur. The new checkpoint/gate for Bethlehem will be 200 metres south of the current Gilo checkpoint and the route of the barrier around Rachel's Tomb will leave approximately 500 Bethlehem residents on the "Jerusalem side".(6) The barrier will closely abut Aida camp and three houses in the camp will also be isolated on the "Israeli side".(7)
A 40-kilometre section is currently underway in the northern Jenin district from Salem checkpoint to Jalbun, to be complete by 31 December 2003. Here the barrier appears to closely follow the Green Line, although constructed entirely within the West Bank. The overall impact is as yet unclear, but may be less detrimental to the Palestinian communities concerned than in other phases.
The second phase will continue the barrier from the village of Masha in the southern Qalqilya district to join up with the northern Jerusalem section at Ofer Camp near Ramallah. Plans adopted some months ago by Prime Minister Sharon and Defence Minister Mofaz, included a massive detour eastwards to bring the settlements of Ariel, Qedumim and Emmanuel on the 'Israeli side' of the fence. This would have doubled the length of the original route - roughly corresponding to the Green Line - from 110 to 210 kilometres.(8) The US administration's strong objections to these indents - including, most recently, threats to deduct the cost of the settlement diversions from the US$ 9 billion loan guarantees -- has apparently resulted in a revision of this plan. The alternative route, which will avoid encircling Ariel and the other settlements, the will not some 160 kilometres from Masha to Ofer Camp, and may be presented for formal approval by the Israeli cabinet as early as 17 August.(9) However, while this route will adhere closer to the Green Line than the previous plan, it is expected that an unknown number of Palestinian enclaves will be created west of the barrier.
There are plans to extend the barrier from the Bethlehem area to Arad south of Hebron, a distance of some 120 kilometres, although the planning, route, budget and completion date for this section are still vague.
Although the scheme has not been formally approved by the cabinet, it appears that Prime Minister Sharon and Defence Minister Mofaz have also planned an additional barrier down the Jordan Valley.(10) Planning for this stage is apparently well-advanced, with the barrier continuing on from the northern section currently under construction from Salem to Jalbun.(11) The barrier will then run to the settlement of Maale Ephraim, from where it will continue southward, to the northern Dead Sea area. The eastern barrier will not be entirely made up of a fence, but some of it will be based on a natural cliff that descends into the Jordan Valley, along with ditches in several places. According to Ma'ariv the length of the entire barrier, east and west, will eventually extend between 800 and 900 kilometres. The estimated cost of construction is estimated at NIS 10 million per kilometre of fence, so that the entire project is expected to cost between NIS 8-9 billion.
Impact of first Phase
Note: The statistics and tables below refer to the completed 123-kilometre section which traverses the Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya governorates. A clear overview and detailed maps of the affected regions are available from OCHA: The West Bank Wall: Humanitarian Status Report -- Northern West Bank Trajectory, July 2003. Available on www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt. OCHA has also prepared the map which accompanies this report. Population statistics are based on mid-2003 projections of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) 1997 census figures; refugee family numbers are from the Relief and Social Services Department in UNRWA West Bank Field Office. The UNRWA official estimate for the average West Bank refugee family is five persons.
The construction of phase one of the "separation fence" will have as yet undetermined impact on approximately 60 towns, villages, "khirbets" and refugee camps.
Most affected will be 14 communities completely isolated between the barrier and the Green Line, numbering 13,636 Palestinians, including 374 refugee families, or 1,870 individuals.
Because of the creation of "depth barriers" and the winding nature of the security barrier itself, additional enclaves will be created to the east of the barrier: 15 communities will be affected, numbering approximately 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals.
In addition, an undetermined number of communities will be impacted by the wall to a greater or lesser degree -- losing land, irrigation networks or infrastructure in the construction and experiencing access problems once the construction is complete. At least 33 communities will be affected, numbering 69,019 Palestinians, including 1,467 refugee families, or 7,335 families.
In total, over 220,000 people will be affected to some degree, including 15,291 refugee families, or 76,455 individuals, representing one third of the total population.
A) Palestinian enclaves west of the barrier (isolated between barrier and Green Line):
These are grouped in five distinct clusters: (see attached map). The total population is 13,636 Palestinians, including 374 refugee families, or 1,870 individuals.
1. Jenin area: This enclave contains five communities; most affected will be Barta'a esh-Sharqiya which is divided from Barta'a Gharbiya on the Israeli side of the Green Line by a narrow valley. It is believed that a fence will be placed down this valley to separate the two Barta'as. The combined population is 4,301 and includes at least 150 refugee families, numbering 750 individuals.
2. Northern Tulkarm area: Here the barrier will create the largest enclave of Palestinian communities west of the barrier, Baqa Sharqiya, Nazlat Issa and Nazlat Abu Nar. Baqa has strong family and social ties with Baqa Gharbiya which is on the Israeli side of the Green Line; the barrier will not reunite the towns as an additional fence is planned to cut Baqa Sharqiya off from its sister town and from the Green Line. The combined population is approximately 6,420 and includes 200 refugee families, with some 1,000 individuals.
3. Southern Tulkarm area: Khirbet Jabara will be isolated in an enclave of its own. Population 309, which includes eight refugee families or some 40 individuals.
4. Qalqilya area: The 'khirbets' or small villages of Ras Tira, Dab'a, Wad Rasha and Arab a-Ramadeen will be completely isolated within the Alfei Menashe settlement enclave and cut off from Hable, Ras Atiya and Kfar Thult, on which they rely for services. There are no educational or health services in these 'khirbets', except for a PA elementary school in Dab'a and they are not connected to the water or electricity network. A road is currently being built to allow them access -- with permits -- through the Alfei Menashe industrial estate to Qalqilya. The combined population is 1,051, which includes 10 refugee families, or 50 individuals.
5. Southern Qalqilya area: In the southern Qalqilya district, the settlement block of Oranit, Elkana, Sharei Tikva and Ets Efrayim will lie to the west of the barrier. Sharei Tikva, which stretches for a distance of 2.5 kilometres, severs the territorial contiguity between the villages of Azun Atme, Beit Amin and Saniriya. Azun Atme, the most southerly village in the Qalqilya district, which will be completely encircled in its own enclave to the west of the barrier, to protect the four settlements. The population is 1,555 which includes six refugee families or 30 individuals.
B) Palestinian enclaves east of the barrier:
Because of the creation of "depth barriers", additional barriers and the winding nature of the security barrier itself, additional enclaves will be created to the east of the barrier; these will be grouped in four distinct clusters, (see attached map). Fifteen communities will be affected, numbering 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals.
1. Jenin area: A "depth barrier" or "deep trench" will be constructed in the northwest Jenin district, running from Salem to Araqa villages, to encircle Rumane, Khirbet Taibe, and Anin villages. Rumane has a majority refugee population and contains an UNRWA co-educational school in the village. The combined population is approximately 8,954 and includes 655 refugee families, or 3,275 individuals.
2. Tulkarm area: In addition to a concrete wall which will be erected to the west of the town, a "depth barrier" or "deep trench" 9,845 metres long and 24 metres wide will be excavated to the east. This trench will run north 1,200 metres east past Nur Shams camp and south to Faroun, encircling Iktaba, Dhinnaba , Kafa and Izbat Shufa. Some 236 dunams of land will be lost by the actual construction of the barrier around Tulkarm while over 23,000 dunams will be included in the enclosed area. The combined population is 80,678 and includes 8,844 refugee families, or 44,220 individuals.
3. Qalqilya town: Qalqilya will be completely sealed, surrounded on all sides by the barrier, with one exit near Nabi Elias on Route 55. Movement in and out of the town will be possible from the east only and the repercussions will be severe for residents of the nearby villages who rely on municipal services, including the UNRWA hospital. Since September 2000, the hospital has experienced a 40 percent decrease in its caseload, as refugees from outlying areas - who accounted for over half of the hospital's patients - were unable to enter Qalqilya. Qalqilya town has 41,616 inhabitants and 3,900 refugee families, or 19,500 individuals.
C) Other communities affected by the barrier:
In addition, an undetermined number of communities will be impacted by the wall to a greater or lesser degree -- losing land, irrigation networks or infrastructure in the construction and experiencing access problems once the construction is complete. At least 33 communities will be affected, numbering approximately 69,019 Palestinians, including 1,467 refugee families or 7,335 individuals.
1. "Without Celebrations: First Stage of Separation Fence Inaugurated", Yediot Ahronoth, 1 August 2003.
2. Interview with residents of Jarushiya village, Tulkarm, 8,9 August 2003.
3. PENGON: The Wall in Palestine: Facts, Testimonies, Analysis and Call to Action, June 2003, p.63.
4. "Israel Considers Changing Separation Fence Route", Yediot Ahronoth, 7 July 2003.
5. "The Fence that will Unite Jerusalem", Ma'ariv, 12 August 2003.
6. PENGON: pp.68, 69.
7. PENGON: p.121.
8. "Ariel staying on the Palestinian Side", Ma'ariv, 4 August 2003.
9. "The Fence that will Unite Jerusalem", Ma'ariv, 12 August 2003.
10. B'Tselem update: The Separation Barrier: Phase One Completed - Hundreds of Thousands of Palestinians Directly Harmed, July 2003. According to David Levy, the head of the Jordan Valley Council, who has seen maps of the plan, "the fence will keep all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert under Israel's control, a 20-30 wide kilometre strip", "Fences and Facts", Yediot Ahronoth, 26 May 2003.
11. "Planning of Separation Fence in Jordan Valley Begins", Ma'ariv, 22 July 2003.