19 December 2002
LAW today received a decision on an appeal filed on September 12 on behalf of four residents of Kufr Aqab in East Jerusalem to temporarily halt construction of a 3.8 km section of Israel’s “security wall,” running between Kufr Aqab and the Ofer military detention center, separating Kufr Aqab from Jerusalem. The wall shall be built near homes and built-up residential areas.
The Israeli committee focusing on the Law to Seize Land in Times of Emergency (enacted in 1949), headed by Judge Daniel Earnest heard the appeal in Tel Aviv’s district court.
LAW’s lawyer Azem Bishara argued to cancel this section of the wall and for the State to choose a different route, arguing that private land is being confiscated to build the wall along this route; the wall is extremely close to homes and built-up residential areas; and life would be endangered by the wall’s route, which shall become a potential conflict point. Exchanges of fire or Israeli attacks upon those attempting to infiltrate the wall could injure or kill civilians living extremely close to the wall.
LAW also notes the distinct possibility, based on precedent in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, of homes near the wall being demolished in order to create a ‘no-mans land’ area, if combatants attempted to hide in residential areas near the wall. The precedent of Rafah also indicates the strong possibility of civilian deaths, as the wall shall become a new point of conflict.
The State of Israel argued that the right of Israeli citizens to life exceeded the rights of property ownership, and that the wall is a security measure. LAW noted that there should be no consideration made for the right to life according to ethnic or religious affiliation, and that Palestinians who would be living close to the wall had the same rights to life as all other citizens. LAW also noted that the residents of Kufr Aqab hold Jerusalem ID cards.
The committee on the Law to Seize Land in times of Emergency ruled the following: It denied LAW’s appeal to halt working on the wall. It accepted arguments of the State that the wall was needed for security, and that the route of the wall is based on security considerations. The committee did not see fit to interfere on military decisions.
The committee had no comment on how the wall shall endanger the lives of residents of Kufr Aqab, although a military representative clearly stated to the committee that if an attack took place, Israeli forces would return fire.
Most residents of Kufr Aqab are integrated into life in Jerusalem, carrying Jerusalem ID cards, working and accessing health and education services in the city. The apartheid wall, shall annex parts of East Jerusalem (occupied in 1967) to Israel, while building a wall around other parts, such as Kufr Aqab.
LAW’s appeal came on the same day that Palestinian farmers and volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement bulldozed 8 roadblocks erected around the foundations of the Apartheid wall in the villages of Zeta and Atil.
On 23 June 2002, the Israeli government authorized a plan to build a ‘security wall’ running the full length of the West Bank, expected to be completed by June 2003. The apartheid wall shall have three parts: a northern section, a section for Jerusalem and a southern section. Israel’s apartheid wall is projected to run the whole 360-km length of the West Bank, near Salem, a village west of Jenin to the Hebron area in the South. The wall shall include electric fences, trenches and security patrols. In some places it shall be as high as 8 meters.
Israel’s apartheid wall shall be built within the West Bank, upon seized Palestinian lands. The wall (and surrounding closed military areas) shall annex approximately 10% of the West Bank to Israel.
It appears that the apartheid wall shall also illegally annex Palestinian land containing approximately 57 Israeli settlements, and inhabited by about 303,000 Israeli settlers. About 384, 918 Palestinians shall be effectively illegally annexed to Israel, or hemmed into the wall.
Palestinians unlawfully transferred to the direct control of the Israeli State will not be granted residential status or citizenship, while Israeli settlers already enjoy full Israeli citizenship.
LAW has consistently argued that Israel’s so called “security wall” is an apartheid wall. The wall will restrict Palestinian freedom of movement, Palestinian livelihoods and Palestinian access to land – a wall which divides upon ethnic, national and religious identity. The apartheid wall involves the illegal annexation of some of the most fertile lands in the West Bank and water sources, while pushing Palestinians further into Bantustans, cantons and enclaves, where Israel can ensure maximum control over Palestinian lives and land.