Friday, January 14, 2011

Israel's Wall

When we travelled to Bethlehem, we saw the infamous wall built by Israel beginning in 2002 to separate itself from the Palestinian territories.   Israel said the wall was needed for security purposes, but the International Court of Justice said in its 2004 advisory opinion on the wall that the wall was in violation of international law and should be removed immediately.  Here is a link to a press release from the International Court of Justice explaining their decision.
Photo copies from
Still, the wall stands.  It is more than 400 miles long in the West Bank.  It cost more than $2.8 million per kilometer to build.

Here are photos we saw of the wall as we headed back into Israel from the West Bank.

Here are some other pictures of the wall that I found online:
You may recognize this image.  It's a replication of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel's
ceiling masterpiece by Michelangelo, this scene of God creating Adam.

The German reads I am a Berliner, drawing a parallel to the Berlin Wall.
 (Photo by Henry Duval, taken December 2007.)
Photo copies from the International Middle East Media Center,
In some places, the wall separated communities, neighbors, families.
Photo from Palestine
In some places, the wall tracks the "Green Line", which was a border agreed to in 1948 by Israel and its neighbors: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria (not Palestine), but in many places, the wall encroaches further into the West Bank, east of the Green Line.  The Green Line is the dividing line that many groups suggest now for a two state solution.  Here is a map showing the placement of the wall (shown by the red line) compared to the Green Line. 
In some places, Israel has fencing with barbed wire instead of a wall.  Here is a photo I found online of that:
Photo description:  "Route 443 near Giv'at Ze'ev Junction,
with pyramid-shaped stacks of barbed wire
 forming a section of the Israeli West Bank barrier
(Photo by Etan J. Tal.)
The effect of the wall on Palestinians?  Here's a link to a journal article discussing how the wall decreases Palestinian access to schools and medical facilities.

There is an interesting 2 minute video embedded in a BBC article about Israel's use of the wall as a blockade of Gaza.  Here's the link for that:

The taxi driver we spoke to who drove us past the way said he used to go to Jerusalem (from his home in Bethlehem) pretty frequently since the two cities are less than an hour away.  But since the wall was built, he has to apply for permission to travel to Jerusalem.  Each of the four times he has sought permission, he has been denied.

If you'd like to learn more about the wall, here is a link to an interesting Washington Post piece done when the barrier was first being built by Israel:

For more information about the wall, here is a website from Palestine

Considering we visited Bethlehem on Christmas day, I thought this cartoon was quite poingnant:

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