Israeli Barrier Isolates Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem, Says UN Report
11 July 2011 — Seven years after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel’s construction of a barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory was illegal, a United Nations report released today shows that communities and households in East Jerusalem have been isolated by the wall.
“As Palestinians in these areas have West Bank residency status, they have no right to live in the Jerusalem municipal area,” said the report prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to coincide with the anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the impact of the barrier in the Jerusalem area issued in July 2004.
The report says that Palestinians “are forced to cross checkpoints to access educational and health services, and even to do their shopping. Their family members from the West Bank cannot visit them unless they obtain Jerusalem entry permits.”
The report also highlights the impact of the barrier on Palestinian farmers, whose access to their land in the so-called “Seam Zone” behind the barrier is severely limited.
“These farmers depend on Israeli-issued permits to access their land through gates which are only open for limited periods. This policy is devastating agricultural livelihoods throughout the West Bank,” according to the document. OCHA has over the past five years been issuing reports on the effects of the barrier on Palestinians on the anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion.
The report calls on the Israeli authorities to abide by the ICJ Advisory Opinion by ceasing construction of the barrier and to reroute constructed sections to the Green Line, dismantle sections of the barrier already completed, and to repeal the gate and the permit regime.
“Only then will Palestinian communities cut off by the barrier be able to exercise their rights to freedom of movement, work, education, health and enjoy an adequate standard of living,” the report added.
Although Israel has stated that the barrier is only a temporary security measure, the ICJ said that the specific route chosen is unnecessary to achieve its security objectives, with most of the wall running inside the West Bank, instead of the so-called Green Line, or 1949 Armistice Line.