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Salon.com: “Up Against the Wall”

Israel continues building a mammoth barrier in the name of border security. Opponents charge that it’s carving more land for Jewish settlements — and assaulting Palestinians’ human rights.

by Rachel Shabi, Salon.com

Sept. 18, 2006, WEST BANK: “We haven’t seen our land since January last year,” says Abdul Ra’uf Khalid, sitting in his home in the Palestinian village of Jayyus. The Khalid family’s 5.5 acres lie on the Israeli side of the separation barrier, which in Jayyus consists of a tall electric fence winding its way across the hilly, rural terrain. The Khalids have greenhouses, and olive, citrus and fruit trees, on the land but aren’t allowed to cross the divide to tend them. “The apricots and peaches are falling from the trees and rotting,” says Abdul’s wife, Itaf. Stuck here, restless and unable to work, the Khalids appear to be deteriorating in similar fashion.

Along much of the West Bank’s border with Israel a similar story is unfolding. It is a story of land, livelihood and a way of life lost to Israel’s rising barrier, known as the “security” or “separation fence” by its supporters and the “apartheid wall” by its opponents. In June 2002, the Israeli government approved the building of the first stage of a physical barrier separating the Jewish state from the West Bank. In July 2004, the International Courts of Justice deemed the wall illegal and called for its removal. Now, the wall — built from various combinations of concrete, razor wire and electric fencing — is 51 percent complete, and construction of the rest continues apace.

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