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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 July 2007









Introduction

This report examines the humanitarian, social and economic consequences of the Barrier on East Jerusalem. The construction of the Barrier, in conjunction with other restrictions, has meant that Palestinians living in the West Bank can no longer travel freely into East Jerusalem, the city that has been the religious, social and economic centre of their lives for centuries.

A 168 km long, concrete and wire section of the Barrier separates East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. The Government of Israel (GOI) states that the purpose of this barrier is to protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks, mostly in the form of suicide bombings.

In 1967, the GOI annexed East Jerusalem and 64 square kilometres of surrounding West Bank land, unilaterally defining this area as the expanded Jerusalem municipality. Almost immediately, the GOI began building settlements in this area, despite these actions being illegal under international law1.

While the Barrier provides physical security for Israel, it also encircles these settlements, connecting them to Israel, and ensuring that Israeli settlers have free, unimpeded access to Jerusalem. At the same time, the Barrier weaves around and between East Jerusalem and West Bank towns and villages. In some cases it cuts through Palestinian communities, dividing neighbourhoods from each other. In other cases, villages that were once closely connected to Jerusalem now lie on the West Bank side of the Barrier, physically separated from the city.

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