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Source:
11 March 2004

UNRWA Update 11 March 2004
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
-Headquarters Gaza
website:
http://www.unrwa.org/

Report on the Security Barrier (2)


Impact of the Barrier on Palestine Refugees

Throughout February, UNRWA continued monitoring the humanitarian impact of the barrier in the West Bank and Jerusalem. UNRWA is concerned that refugees’ access to land, services and livelihoods will be adversely affected, placing further strain on the Agency’s resources and delivery capacity. The UNRWA website features reports, profiles and case studies which illustrate the increasing difficulties created by the barrier, for refugees and non-refugees alike: http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/index.html.

In February, increased international attention focused on the barrier due to the hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Simultaneous with the hearings, the Israeli authorities announced a number of measures to ease restrictions along the route and improve procedures and opening times at the gates. Most of the changes concern the completed ‘Phase 1’ section of the barrier in the Jenin, Tulkarm, and Qalqilya areas: see map http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/images/map-part03.pdf.

In Jenin, the route of the barrier has created an enclave out of Barta’a Sharqiya and five adjoining villages, cutting them off from the rest of the West Bank. See profile http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/bartaa.html and case study
http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/case_studies/bartaa.pdf. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Israeli authorities intend to move the barrier to the Green Line, which will ‘reunite’ the villages with the rest of the West Bank, but divide Barta’a Sharqiya from Barta’a Gharbiya. There are no indications as to when or if these changes will be implemented. A case study on the impact of the existing barrier on seamstresses in the Barta’a sewing factories will soon be added to the UNRWA website.

In the Tulkarm area, the villages of Baqa Sharqiya, Nazlat Issa and Nazlat Abu Nar were similarly enclosed within an enclave, isolating them from the rest of the West Bank.: see http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/baqa.html. On 22 February, the Israeli authorities removed eight kilometres of the barrier, allowing residents of the villages free passage to the east. However, a recently constructed ‘western’ barrier, part of which is a concrete wall, prevents access to the Green Line and the Arab Israeli town of Baqa Gharbiya.

Also in the Tulkarm governorate, the barrier has isolated the village of Khirbet Jubara in an enclave of its own: see http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/jubara.html.
The impact is particularly severe for the 88 Jubara schoolchildren who need to pass through a special gate to attend schools on the eastern side of the barrier, and for two refugee families from Ras village who are also isolated within the Jubara enclave (the subject of a forthcoming case study to be posted on the UNRWA website). Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Israeli authorities may move the barrier to the west of Khirbet Jubara or, alternatively, provide special buses to transport the children to school.

The route of the barrier has also created an enclave of Qalqilya town, see: http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/qalqilya.html.
The recent removal of the main checkpoint at the eastern entrance of the town has, however, eased movement. The Israeli media also reported plans to remove a one-kilometre section of the barrier around Qalqilya on either side of Route 55. Construction of an underground tunnel is currently underway to link Qalqilya to the village of Hable to the south.

In a meeting with the Qalqilya DCL, the Israeli authorities confirmed further easing of restrictions in gate openings and requirements, including an extension of the gate opening hours in Jayous (see http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/jayous.html); the provision of school buses for children in the Palestinian villages within the Alfei Menashe enclave (see http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/alfei.html); and an increase in issuing permits to those farmers denied on security grounds, as well as an easing in requirements for the renewal of existing permits.

The Agency also continued the monitoring of the impact of the ongoing construction of Phase III the barrier in the middle and southern sections of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, where the Agency is concerned at the implications for the provision of education, health care, relief and social services. (see http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/jerusalem.pdf .

Forthcoming updates to the website will include case studies on the eviction threats to a refugee family in the Salfit area, a profile of Abu Dis in Jerusalem and a case study on the potential impact of the barrier on stonecutting factories in the Hebron area.
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