Israel–Gaza barrier

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Map of Gaza Strip

The Israel−Gaza barrier is a separation barrier[1] first constructed by Israel in 1994 between the Gaza Strip and Israel. An addition to the barrier was finished in 2005 to separate the Gaza Strip and Egypt (the Egypt-Gaza barrier).

The fence runs along the entire land border of the Gaza Strip.[2] It is made up of wire fencing with posts, sensors and buffer zones on lands bordering Israel, and concrete and steel walls on lands bordering Egypt.

Entry into the Gaza Strip by land is through five crossing points: the northern Erez Crossing into Israel, the southern Rafah Crossing into Egypt, and the eastern Karni Crossing used only for cargo.[3] Other cargo crossing points are the Kerem Shalom Crossing on the border with Egypt and the Sufa Crossing farther north.[4]

Background[edit]

In 1993, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation signed the Oslo Accords establishing the Palestinian Authority with limited administrative control of the Palestinian territories. Pursuant to the Accords, Israel has continued to maintain control of the Gaza Strip's airspace, land borders and territorial waters. Israel started construction of the first 60 kilometers (37 mi) long barrier between the Gaza Strip and Israel in 1994, after the signing of the Oslo Accords. In the 1994 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, it was agreed that "the security fence erected by Israel around the Gaza Strip shall remain in place and that the line demarcated by the fence, as shown on the map, shall be authoritative only for the purpose of the Agreement"[5] (i.e. the barrier does not constitute the border). The barrier was completed in 1996.

From the Israeli perspective, the Israel–Gaza Strip barrier is a security barrier intended by Israel to control the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and to attempt to improve security in Israel. For the Palestinians, it is an element of the blockade of the Gaza Strip and an instrument to throttle the movement of Palestinians between West Bank and Gaza.

The Israel-Gaza Strip barrier has met with opposition and protests from some Palestinians.[6]

The barrier was largely torn down by Palestinians at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000.[7] The barrier was rebuilt between December 2000 and June 2001. A one-kilometer buffer zone was added, in addition to new high technology observation posts. Soldiers were also given new rules of engagement,[7] which, according to Ha'aretz, allow soldiers to fire at anyone seen crawling there at night.[8] Palestinians attempting to cross the barrier into Israel by stealth have been shot and killed.[9]

The barrier's effectiveness prompted a shift in the tactics of Palestinian militants who commenced firing Qassam rockets and mortars over the barrier.[7][10]

It has been argued that the barrier has been effective in preventing terrorists and suicide bombers from entering Israel from Gaza. Since 1996, virtually all suicide bombers trying to leave Gaza have detonated their charges at the barrier's crossing points or were stopped while trying to cross the barrier elsewhere.[11][12] From 1994 until 2004 only one suicide bomber originating from within the Gaza Strip successfully carried out an attack in Israel (the March 14, 2004, attack in Ashdod).[13]

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip, along with thousands of Israeli settlers. Israel claimed that that was the end of the occupation. However, this claim has been challenged internationally, as Israel still exercises control over most of Gaza's land borders, as well as its territorial waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza's southern border.[14]

In June 2007, Hamas took over the strip, ousting the forces of Fatah, the faction led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and effectively splitting Gaza from the West Bank in terms of its administration. Hamas had won legislative elections in January 2006. Israel intensified its blockade of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, when Hamas took power. The aim has been to isolate Hamas and to pressure it to stop militant rocket fire.

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched the Gaza War, consisting of airstrikes and ground incursions against targets in the Gaza Strip, with the stated aim of stopping the rocket fire[15] from and arms smuggling into the territory.[16][17] The war ended on 18 January 2009, when both sides ceased military action.[18][19] Israel completed its withdrawal on 21 January,[20] and thousands of rockets, mortars, and bombs have been fired from and into the Gaza Strip since.

Crossing points[edit]

There are three main crossing points out of the Gaza Strip: the northern Erez Crossing into Israel, the southern Rafah Crossing into Egypt, and the eastern Karni Crossing used only for cargo.[3] Other cargo crossing points are the Kerem Shalom border crossing on the border with Egypt and the Sufa Crossing further north.[4]

From the Palestinian perspective, the crossings are crucial to the economy of the Gaza Strip and to the daily needs of the population.[3] Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat described closures of the crossings as collective punishment and said they have "proven to be counter-productive".[4]

Erez Crossing[edit]

Erez Crossing

The Erez Crossing is a pedestrian and cargo crossing into Israel, located in the northern end of the Strip. The crossing is currently restricted to Arab residents under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and to Egyptian nationals or international aid officials only. Palestinians who have a permit to work in Israel or those with permits allowing them to receive medical treatment or to visit immediate family in prisons may use this crossing when it is open for pedestrian travel.[21]

Currently the crossing is only open for foreigners and for the few Palestinians with a residence permit for another country or permits for medical treatment in Israel.[citation needed]

Though 5,000 Palestinians are permitted to use the Erez Crossing to go to their places of work inside Israel, the crossing was frequently closed by the Israeli authorities, impeding their ability to get to work.[3] Additionally, the permits issued have not always been honoured by soldiers, who in some cases confiscated them at the crossing.[21]

Karni Crossing[edit]

Gaza Strip Barrier near the Karni Crossing

The Karni Crossing is used for cargo traffic. The Karni crossing is often closed by Israel after attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli targets.[4] Israeli officials have cited ongoing threats against its security, inaction against terrorist group activity on the part of the Palestinian Authority, and a lack of other choices as justification to close the crossing.[4]

Breach of the barrier[edit]

On 25 June 2006 Palestinian militants used an 800-metre tunnel dug under the barrier over a period of months to infiltrate into Israel. They attacked a patrolling Israeli armored unit, killed two Israeli soldiers, and captured another one, Gilad Shalit.[22] Between January and October 2013, three tunnels crossing under the Israel border were identified – two of which were packed with explosives [23] The discovery of similarly constructed tunnels in other hemispheres of the world lead to threat assessment estimates [24] [25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barasch, Daniel B.; Qadir, Lala R. (2004-04-08). Overcoming Barriers: US National Security Interests and the West Bank Separation Barrier (PDF). John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. p. 10. Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  2. ^ Barnard, Anne (2006-10-22). "Life in Gaza Steadily Worsens". The Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ a b c d Myre, Greg (2006-03-04). "Gaza Crossing:Choked Passages to Frustration". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Dudkavitch, Margo; Halpern, Orly (2006-03-01). "Palestinians Reject Use of Kerem Shalom for Gaza Cargo". The Jerusalem Post. 
  5. ^ "Draft Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area (archived copy)" (PDF). Palestine Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture. 1994-04-26. 
  6. ^ "Palestinians Protest The Israeli Wall Surrounding The Gaza Strip - International Middle East Media Center". Imemc.org. 2010-03-10. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  7. ^ a b c Almog, Major General Doron (2004-12-23), Lessons of the Gaza Security Fence for the West Bank 4 (12 ed.), Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs 
  8. ^ Harel, Amos; Issacharoff, Ari (2007-01-26). "IDF Kills Teen Crawling Toward Gaza Fence". Ha'aretz, English edition. 
  9. ^ "Unarmed Palestinians Killed Scaling Gaza Fence". CTV. Associated Press. 2002-12-12. 
  10. ^ Burston, Bradley. "Background: Hamas vs. Abbas:The Lethal Wildcard, A Profile". Haaretz. Retrieved 2007-05-02. [dead link]
  11. ^ "The Gaza Strip: Maps and Fact File". CTV. 2006-07-04. 
  12. ^ Bard, Mitchell (2007-01-09). Israel's Security Fence. Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  13. ^ Barasch, Daniel B.; Qadir, Lala R. Overcoming Barriers: US National Security Interests and the West Bank Separation Barrier (PDF). p. 20. 
  14. ^ "Gaza crisis: key maps and timeline". BBC News. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  15. ^ TIMELINE – Israeli-Hamas violence since truce ended, Reuters 05-01-2009
  16. ^ Bright, Arthur. Israel set to launch ‘limited operation’ in Gaza, Christian Science Monitor, December 26, 2008.
  17. ^ Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem (2009-09-16). "Israel rejects war crimes findings of UN Gaza inquiry | World news | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  18. ^ "Hamas leader in Syria announce one-week ceasefire in Gaza". Xinhua. 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  19. ^ "Hamas agrees to 1-week ceasefire". CBC News. 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  20. ^ Hamas, Israel set independent cease-fires, CNN International; Last Israeli troops 'leave Gaza', BBC News, January 21, 2009.
  21. ^ a b "Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the Closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip". Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Closure Update No. 9. 1996-05-16. 
  22. ^ "Palestinian Militants Attack Border". CBS News. 2006-06-25. 
  23. ^ Fiske, Gavriel and Ginsburg. (13 October 2013). "IDF blames Hamas for ‘terror tunnel’ from Gaza to Israel Defense minister halts transfer of construction supplies to the Strip after 500 tons of cement used to construct underground passage"
  24. ^ Lichtenwald, Terrance G. and Perri, Frank S. (2013). "of-smuggling-tunnels.pdf Terrorist Use of Smuggling Tunnels" International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, Volume 2, pp. 210-226.
  25. ^ Lichtenwald, Terrance G. and Perri, Frank S. (2011)."Smuggling Tunnels: The Need for a Transnational Analysis" Inside Homeland Security Volume 9, Issue 1.

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