Time for a Wall
Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
Going on an extensive tour of the wall during my Summer 2005 visit to Israel confirmed my and many others’ concern that the wall is being built along the wrong route. While in some areas it follows the appropriate route of the green line of 1967, in many other areas it cuts across urban areas, separates relatives, divides communities and cuts people off from municipal, health and educational resources. Some people call it a form of passive deportation.
Regretfully, several of the concerns expressed in the article above have become a disturbing reality. As the following photo shows, some parts of the wall arbitrary cut through villages.
- As of 2008 the biggest problem of the wall is not its existence or intended security function, but the insensitive, and at times nonsensical, route it has taken. In many areas, the wall separates neighborhoods and families, prevents children from going to school and Palestinians from accessing their local hospitals. At times, it divides villages or prevents people from being able to tend their crops.
- Additionally, the fence often continues not bear much resemblance to the 1967 Green Line. At times, it follows a politically callous and one-sided route geared exclusively to the protection of mostly illegal settlements and the roads leading to them. Above all, its route assures that most settlements will be on the Israeli side of the fence. As a result, the fence very often unjustly cuts deep into Palestinian territory.
- The idea of building a security fence or separating wall was an attempt to find a way to stop suicide bombers from entering Israel. The Wall was supposed to provide an answer to the reality that any day and any time a suicide bomber or gunman could simply walk across from the West Bank into Israel and kill Israelis at will.
- What people do not seem to realize that the wall was not designed to keep Palestinians in but to keep suicide bombers and other Palestinian terrorists out.
- The wall or security fence is designed with clearly designated gates or border crossings where laborers and goods can continue to flow in and out of Israel under the watchful eyes of Israeli security personnel.
- An Israel-erected fence has served as an almost 100% effective barrier preventing Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers from crossing into Israel from Gaza Strip for more than a decade. However, the rockets, which started their deadly flights mainly after Israelis left Gaza have been undeterred by the fence
- After years of senseless losses in Lebanon, in 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally in 48 hours and positioned itself behind the northern security fence. The fence was very effective for its intended purpose, i.e. stopping Palestinian terrorists and suicide bombers from infiltrating Israel on foot. However, the rockets, which started their deadly flights in 2006 were undeterred by the fence and thus, presented a different challenge.
- In Summary: While less than an ideal solution, the Wall presents an effective means of stopping suicide bombers and other extremists from crossing into Israel to wreak their terror and serves, not only as an effective barrier but which may mark the future border between the two states, Israel and Palestine. The main drawbacks of the wall are the perception that it is meant to keep Palestinians in rather than keep Palestinian terrorists out; and; the discriminatory and inequitable route it chosen for its construction.
2008 – The Occupation Catch 22 – Times Five:
- Continued occupation of the West Bank also has the same broad, negative impact on Israelis, but the emotional, psychological and physical damage is even greater for the soldiers serving there.
- If Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, it is almost inevitable that the radical Hamas will take over, as they did in Gaza.
- If Israel leaves the West Bank, Israelis may be subjected to rocket assaults as they were after leaving Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, except this time the rockets will have Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and hundreds of cities, towns and villages within reach. Jerusalem will be just a few hundred feet away and millions of Israelis will be within easy range of those rockets.
- Returning rocket fire, as the Gaza experience tells us, does not seem to be an effective strategy for stopping the daily Qassam rockets.
NOTE: According to some idealistic and visionary people, the only viable long-term, and perhaps utopian, solution for the region is to have one truly democratic country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean where Jews and Arabs live peacefully, harmoniously, respectfully, and creatively together.