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West Bank Barrier
In 2002, the Government of Israel approved construction of a Barrier in and around the West Bank with the stated purpose of preventing violent attacks by Palestinians in Israel. Land for construction of Barrier sections inside the West Bank has been requisitioned from Palestinian landowners. Approximately 65.3 per cent (465km) of the projected 712-kilometre-long structure has been completed, of which 85 per cent runs inside the West Bank. The Barrier impedes access to services and resources, disrupts family and social life, undermines livelihoods and compounds the fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory. On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an Advisory Opinion which recognized that Israel faced “indiscriminate and deadly acts of violence” but at the same time stated that the part of the Barrier which runs inside the West Bank, together with the associated gate and permit regime, violates Israel’s obligations under international law and should be dismantled.
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Many Palestinians in East Jerusalem are subject to a coercive environment with the risk of forcible transfer due to Israeli policies such as home demolitions, forced evictions and revocation of residency status. As is the case in Area C, a restrictive and discriminatory planning regime makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain the requisite Israeli building permits: only 13 per cent of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian construction and much of this is already built-up. Palestinians who build without permits face the risk of home demolition and other penalties, including costly fines, the payment of which does not exempt the owner from the requirement to obtain a building permit.3At least a third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack an Israeli-issued building permit, potentially placing over 100,000 residents at risk of displacement.
During the month of Ramadan (27 May-26 June), Israeli authorities reported that around 348,000 Palestinians holding West Bank ID cards entered East Jerusalem for Friday prayers and Laylat al Qadr (the night of destiny) at Al Aqsa Mosque in relaxed measures to mark the month of Ramadan. This represents an increase of 15 per cent over the equivalent figures in 2016. Additionally, 453 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were allowed access to East Jerusalem for these events. While arrangements at checkpoints to facilitate travel to Al Aqsa Mosque, were put in place, vulnerable groups including elderly, children, and people with disabilities faced several challenges. During the month, one major Palestinian attack resulted in the death of an Israeli police officer and led to the partial suspension of the relaxation measures.
Following a wave of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings, Israel began building a Barrier in 2002 with the stated aim of preventing such attacks. The Barrier’s deviation from the Israeli-declared municipal boundary of Jerusalem has resulted in some Palestinian localities in East Jerusalem, especially Kafr Aqab and Shufat camp area, becoming separated from the urban centre. Although residents retain their permanent residency status and continue to pay municipal taxes, these areas have effectively been abandoned by the municipality.
In 2002, following a wave of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings, Israel began building a Barrier with the stated aim of preventing these attacks. The vast majority of the Barrier’s route is located within the West Bank; it separates Palestinian communities and farming land from the rest of the West Bank, and contributes to the fragmentation of the oPt.
In recent months, increased restrictions have been reported in the northern West Bank which are aﬀecting the access of farmers to their agricultural land isolated by the Barrier. These restrictions relate to a minimum area of land and land ownership documents required before Palestinian landowners can apply for permits to cross the Barrier. Although these restrictions have been included in previous ‘Standing Orders’ published by the Israeli authorities, which detail the regulations governing access to areas behind the Barrier, the concern is that stricter application of regulations will further restrict Palestinian access to agricultural land and livelihoods in Barrier-aﬀected areas.
The Barrier in the Jerusalem area has transformed the geography, economy and social life of East Jerusalem and its wider metropolitan area. In the areas where it follows the Israeli-defined municipal boundary, the Barrier physically separates Palestinian communities onto either side of what had previously been only a jurisdictional division. Thus, some Jerusalem suburbs that were once closely connected to the city are now walled out, with previously flourishing residential and commercial centres closing down, and families being forced to leave to areas with better access to services and livelihoods.