Separation barrier or separation wall refers to a barrier, wall or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate two populations.
The term is used to describe the various fences, walls and other barriers Israel created to separate Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza from Israel so that they may not enter Israel without authorization. Barriers also have separated various Palestinian towns and villages within the occupied territories from each other and they separate Egypt and Jordan from Israel. Israelis prefer the term to "wall" since only five to ten percent of it consists of wall and most of it is barbed wire or non-wall structures.
David Henley opines in The Guardian that "separation barriers" are being built at perhaps record-rate around the world along borders and do not only surround dictatorships or pariah states. The term "separation barrier" has been applied to such walls, fences or barriers in Cyprus, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
- Tegart's wall: The British Mandate for Palestine constructed a fence on the northern border of Palestine to separate populations in 1938 following the recommendations of Charles Tegart. The fence was later dismantled.
- Jerusalem: From 1948 until 1967 Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan occupying the eastern part of the city, which was divided by walls and barbed wire until Israel pulled them down after the 1967 Six Day War.
- Lebanon, Jordan, Syria: Since 1948 Israel has maintained fences and barriers along its 80-mile northern border with Lebanon—including what is called the "Good Fence"—to prevent attacks from Palestinians who are refugees in Lebanon, as well as fences at its borders with Jordan and Syria.
- Egypt: A rusty low fence divided Israel's 155 mile Sinai Peninsula border with Egypt. It was often crossed by smugglers and Bedouins whose tribal lands straddle the border. In 2010 Israel began building an electric fence with surveillance to keep out migrants and asylum seekers.
- Egypt-Gaza Strip barrier: In 1979, after the signing of the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty, the two nations created a 14-kilometer-long, 100-meter-wide strip of land, the Philadelphi Route, as a buffer zone between Israeli-occupied Gaza and Egypt. It includes the Rafah Border Crossing between Egyptian and Palestinian-controlled Rafah. Israel built a stronger corrugated sheet metal and barbed-wire barrier as part of a larger 200-to-300-meter buffer in the Philadelphia corridor during the Palestinian uprisings of the early 2000s.
Rationale for separation barriers
At the end of the 1948 Palestine war with Arab states, Israel took control of almost 60% of the area allocated to the proposed Palestinian state recommended by UN General Assembly Resolution 181. As a result, between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinian refugees left Israel. Another 280,000 to 350,000 more were refugees of the 1967 war. As of 2013 five million Palestinian refugees, including both first-generation refugees and their descendants, were registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Palestinians support the Palestinian right of return of refugees and their descendants to former lands and property, in Israel and the occupied territories, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel’s refusal to grant these demands over the years, despite a long peace process, has led to Palestinian protest, political action and political violence.
In 1987 Palestinians began the First Intifada, organizing campaigns of civil disobedience as well as demonstrations with hundreds of youths throwing stones at Israeli troops. In 1993 Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation signed the Oslo Accords. In 1996, after a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, then Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced the intention to build an $80 million "'separation' barrier" between Israel and the West Bank. After the 2000 Camp David Summit failed to bring about a "final status settlement" and Israeli leaders continued settlement activity in the West Bank, Palestinians began the far more violent Second Intifada. It included guerrilla warfare against Israeli military and civilian targets inside Israel using tactics like ambushes, sniper attacks, and suicide bombings. In 2001 former prime minister Ehud Barak called for immediate "unilateral separation" from the Palestinians. The idea of such separation, including through the use of "separation barriers", quickly became popular among traditional Left and Right politicians. In early 2013 Ehud Barak promoted a unilateral separation in the West Bank as was done in Gaza in 2005.
While Israel has said that the barriers are designed to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel to commit terrorist acts, Palestinians see them a means of confiscating West Bank land and of short-circuiting the peace process; former Palestine Authority leader Yassir Arafat said their goal was to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Palestinians have called them a form of collective punishment and a means of ethnic cleansing. Many Palestinians and their supporters label the separation barriers an "apartheid wall," and some have publicly protested against them.
Israel-Gaza Strip barrier
In the Gaza–Jericho Agreement the Palestinian Authority agreed to allow Israel to build a "security fence" around Gaza. The Israel-Gaza Strip barrier is also referred as a separation barrier. Palestinians largely tore down the barrier between Gaza and Israel at the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000. Israel rebuilt it as a separation barrier between December 2000 and June 2001 and added a one-kilometer buffer zone. In 2005 Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip, but it still exercises control over most of Gaza's land, air and territorial waters, including through operation of the barrier.
Israeli West Bank barrier
Israel began building the Israeli West Bank barrier in 2002. When completed it will be a 400-mile long network of high walls, electronic fences, gates and trenches. It is the most controversial barrier because much of it is built outside Israel's 1949 Armistice (Green Line), annexing potentially 10 percent of Palestinian land, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It cuts far into the West Bank and encompasses Israel's largest illegal settlement blocs containing hundreds of thousands of settlers. Some Israeli politicians have admitted it is less a security measure than a new political border. In 2012 Palestinian officials accused Israel of using it as a permanent border.
In June 2004 the Israeli Supreme Court held that building the wall on West Bank Palestinian land is in itself legal, but it ordered some changes to the original route, which separated 35,000 Palestinian farmers from their lands and crops. The Israeli finance minister replied that it was disputed land, not Palestinian, and its final status would be resolved in political negotiation. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice at The Hague in a nonbinding opinion declared the barriers illegal under international law and called on Israel to dismantle the walls, return confiscated land and make reparations for damages.
Israel refers to land between the 1949 lines and the separation barrier as the Seam Zone, including all of Palestinian East Jerusalem. In 2003 the military declared that only Israeli citizens and Palestinians with permits are allowed to be inside it; Palestinians have found it increasingly difficult to get permits unless they own land in the zone. The separation barrier cuts off east Jerusalem and some settlement blocs from the remainder of the West Bank, even as Israelis build illegal settlements in East Jerusalem. Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have continued to protest the separation barrier.
Israel also has built a barrier in the Jordan Valley near the Jordan border to prevent infiltration from Jordan and to prevent Palestinians from entering Jordan. Because of international condemnation after the International Court ruling Israel did not build an even stronger barrier, instead instituting a restrictive permit regime for Palestinians. However, it has changed the route to allow settlements to annex parcels of land. The existing barrier cuts off access to the Jordan River for Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. Israeli settlement councils already have defacto control of 86 percent of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea as the settler population steadily grows there. It is proposed that if Israel unilaterally disengages from the West Bank, as it did Gaza, it maintain a military presence there to contain Palestinians within the separation barrier.
Other separation barriers
Cyprus Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Turkey has constructed and maintained what economics professor Rongxing Guo has called a "separation barrier" of 300 kilometres (190 mi) along the 1974 Green Line (or ceasefire line) dividing the island of Cyprus into two parts, with a United Nations buffer zone between them.
Egypt The Egypt-Gaza barrier is often referred as "separation barrier" in the media. or as a "separating wall". In December 2009, Egypt started the construction of the Egypt–Gaza barrier along the Gaza border, consisting of a steel wall. Egypt's foreign minister said that the controversial wall, being built along the country's border with the Gaza Strip will defend it "against threats to national security". Though the construction paused a number of times, the wall is nearly complete.
Kuwait Writer Damon DiMarco has described as a "separation barrier" the Kuwait-Iraq barricade constructed by the United Nations in 1991 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was repelled. With electrified fencing and concertina wire, it includes a 15-foot-wide trench and a high berm. It runs 120 miles along the border between the two nations.
Malaysia Renee Pirrong of the Heritage Foundation described the Malaysia–Thailand border barrier as a “separation barrier.” Its purpose is to cut down on smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, crime and insurgency.
Saudi Arabia In 2004 Saudi Arabia began construction of a Saudi-Yemen barrier between its territory and Yemen to prevent the unauthorized movement of people and goods into and out of the Kingdom. Some have labeled it a "separation barrier." In February 2004 The Guardian reported that Yemeni opposition newspapers likened the barrier to the Israeli West Bank barrier, while The Independent wrote "Saudi Arabia, one of the most vocal critics in the Arab world of Israel's 'security fence' in the West Bank, is quietly emulating the Israeli example by erecting a barrier along its porous border with Yemen". Saudi officials rejected the comparison saying it was built to prevent infiltration and smuggling.
Slovakia BBC reporter Nick Thorpe described a 150-meter-long and 2.2-meter-high wall in the Slovakian town of Ostrovany as a “separation barrier” and compares it to the Berlin Wall and the Israeli separation barriers because it is meant to divide the two-thirds majority Roma population from the native Slovaks. Slovaks accuse the Roma of stealing their fruit, vegetables and metal fence posts.
United States The United States has constructed a barrier along 130 kilometres (81 mi) of its border with Mexico of 3,169 kilometres (1,969 mi) to prevent unauthorized immigration into the United States and to deter smuggling of contraband. The Georgetown Journal of Law has referred to it as a "separation barrier" and suggests that while it is "revolting to many as an ugly face of separation" it could be used as an opportunity if part of a larger program of "foreign aid, infrastructure investment and regional development."
- Defensive walls
- List of fortifications
- List of walls
- List of cities with defensive walls
- Buffer zone
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