Question of Palestine home
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
15 December 2003
P.O. Box 38712 East Jerusalem
Phone: (972) 2 – 5829962 / 5825853, Fax: (972) 2 – 5825841
Preliminary analysis by OCHA reveals that the planned new Wall will have severe humanitarian
consequences for more than 680,000 Palestinians in the West Bank – well beyond the impact of the current Wall
The Israeli Government recently approved a plan revealing new information about the Wall’s planned route throughout the West Bank on 1 October 2003. It released the map of the Wall’s new planned route (
) on 23 October. The current Wall consists of concrete walls, ditches, trenches, roads, razor wire and electronic fences and stretches for 180 km. The planned new route will be 687 km long. The Head of the Knesset Economics Committee estimates that it will cost $3.4 billion, that is, US$ 4.7 million per kilometre.
Analysis of impact
210,000 acres – or 14.5 percent
– of West Bank land (excluding East Jerusalem) will lie between the Wall and the Green Line, according to the latest Israeli Government projection of the West Bank Wall. (See map attached). This includes
37,000 acres in enclaves, 153,000 acres in closed areas and 20,000 acres in secondary barriers
or depth barriers that IDF has planned to build.
Palestinian population affected
This land, some of the most fertile in the West Bank, is currently the home for more
than 274,000 Palestinians living in 122 villages and towns.
These people will either live in closed areas – areas between the Wall and the Green Line – or in enclaves totally surrounded by the Wall. Of these,
161,000 will live in enclaves, 96,000 will be inside the depth barriers and 17,000 will be in closed areas
between the wall and the Green line. More than
400,000 other Palestinians
living to the east of the Wall will need to cross it to get to their farms, jobs and services. This means that over
30 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank
– will be directly harmed by the Wall.
Israel's security rationale
Following several deadly suicide bombings and attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli citizens, the Israeli Government in June 2002 began construction of the Wall. It maintains that the Wall is a temporary structure to physically separate the West Bank from Israel to prevent suicide attacks on Israeli citizens.
Stretching a total of
(including Jerusalem), the new Wall route will run from Jenin in the northern West Bank to the southern-most tip of Hebron in the south. Because of its meandering path into the West Bank, its length is more than twice the length of the entire Green Line. The finished Wall will be four times longer than what is now completed.
Departure from the Green Line
11% of the Wall’s length runs along the 1949 Armistice Line or Green Line.
For the rest, the Wall’s planned path cuts deep into the West Bank – up to
where it envelopes the Israeli settlement of Ariel.
The Wall not only runs inside the Green Line but folds in on itself to
separate enclaves – areas where people will be totally surrounded by the Wall.
Access to West Bank jobs and services
People who live in either enclaves or closed areas will have to pass through the Wall to reach markets, schools, hospitals and maintain family connections in the remaining areas of the West Bank. As yet, the Israeli Government plans contain no information on access gates through the Wall.
Israeli settler population affected
Also included in the area between the Wall and the Green Line will be 54 Israeli settlements containing approximately
142,000 Israeli settlers
– 63 percent of the West Bank settlement population. The majority of the Israeli settlers will live within the same zone of the Wall as the Palestinians for whom the Wall was designed to separate. However, unlike the Palestinians living in this ‘closed zone’ between the Wall and the Green Line, the Israelis will be able to legally cross into Israel.
Palestinians require permits to continue residing in closed areas
Given the latest Israeli policy on permits, Palestinians residing in these areas face an uncertain future. On 2 October 2003, the Israeli Defence Forces issued a number of military orders closing land areas located between the Wall and the Green Line in the Jenin, Qalqilya and Tulkarm districts. The orders require approximately
residents in these closed areas to apply for green-coloured permits to remain living in their homes. These permits are valid for up to six months. These permits have turned a right of Palestinians to live in their own homes into a privilege. The Wall will further restrict farmers living outside this ‘closed zone’ from getting to their land within it. Medical staff, business people and international humanitarian organizations also have to apply for special permits. The military orders exempt Israeli citizens and internationals of Jewish descent from these requirements.
Little consideration appears to have been given by the Israeli Government to the Wall’s impact on Palestinian lives. More people, unable to reach their land to harvest crops, graze animals or have the money to buy food, will be hungry. The damage caused by the destruction of land and property for the Wall’s construction is irreversible and undermines Palestinians’ ability to ever recover even if the political situation allows conditions to improve. Residents risk being cut off from schools, universities and specialized medical care. The Wall fragments communities and isolates residents from vital social support networks. If the military orders that restrict entry into the closed areas between the Green Line and the Wall are applied to the new parts of the Wall, then many thousands of Palestinians are likely to be forced from their homes and land.
15 December 2003