Jerusalem fence poses problems of logistics — and humanitarianism.
This is another installment in a series on
Israel's West Bank security barrier. The
series is in connection with the Feb. 23
hearing at the International Court of
Justice on the barrier's legality..
emphasize, Palestinians enjoyed unfet-
tered freedom of movement, and the
current change has been brought about
only by the terrorism of the intifada
Palestinians say the Jerusalem portion
of the fence is a political attempt to
solidify Israeli control of the city. The
status of Jerusalem is one of the thorni-
est issues of the Israeli-Palestinian con-
Before construction began on the
Jerusalem portion of the barrier, the
municipal borders were invisible, not
affecting the daily lives of residents on
either side in a significant way.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
alestinian schoolboys scram-
ble onto cement blocks and
climb on the 26-foot-high
slabs of concrete forming
the towering wall that is blocking off
Jerusalem from the West Bank.
From their perch, the boys can see
both sides of the wall that runs along
Shaya Street, the previously invisible
municipal boundary between
Jerusalem and the West Bank village
of Abu Dis.
As in other neighborhoods in east-
ern Jerusalem, where nearly all of the
city's Arabs live, the barrier cuts .
through the city and its suburbs —
separating relatives, cutting off work-
ers from their jobs and students from
A heavy crane moves a concrete section of the security fence Israel is building to separate
their schools, and separating those on
Jerusalem from the village of Abu Dis.
the Palestinian side from hospitals,
municipal services and cemeteries in
In most places hewing roughly to the
and annexed as part of the city — the
Israeli political and military officials
Green Line — the armistice line from
divides Palestinian neighbor-
say the wall in Jerusalem, like the hun-
Israel's 1948 War of Independence,
Jewish neighborhoods on the
dreds of miles of barrier being built to
which served as a de facto boundary
side of the city are included on
separate the rest of Israel from the West
until the 1967 Six-Day War — the
the Israeli side of the wall.
Bank, is a temporary measure to block
fence is altering the delicate fabric of life
More than half of Jerusalem's
that has grown up between Israelis and
population lives inside the
The two sides' differing views of the
Palestinians here over nearly four
— some 200,000
fence are coming to a head as a Feb. 23
hearing on the barrier's legality
Critics of the fence ask why
approaches at the International Court of Jerusalem Stands. Out
beyond the city limits are
Justice at the Hague. Israel has said it
The ramifications of such a physical
considered a security threat when those
will not make arguments in the trial, as
divide are seen most starkly in Jerusalem, inside the city apparently are not.
the Hague has no jurisdiction in the
the only part of the barrier route that
Security officials say the government
slices through a major urban area.
to build the fence along the
Palestinians argue that the fence is an
Elsewhere along the boundary with
boundaries — and those
illegal land grab, taking ground they
the West Bank, the barrier is comprised
city limits are le
claim as their own and that they want
mostly of a high-tech network of wire
for a future state — including Jerusalem,
fence, ditches and patrol roads. In urban
Still, they hope to prevent terrorists
which they hope one day will become
areas like Abu Dis, which merges into
using eastern Jerusalem neighbor-
Jerusalem, such a setup would involve
on the West Bank side of the city
Israel claims that the fence is a neces-
confiscating additional land and further
pads for attacks — as has
sary security precaution — saying it is
disrupting everyday life, so large walls
past. The barrier, they
perhaps the least invasive measure the
are being constructed instead.
the flow of people from
Jewish state can take after three years of
As Israeli authorities build along the
Jerusalem by chan-
Palestinian terrorism have left more than
Jerusalem municipal boundary estab-
neling all traffic to checkpoints, as a reg-
1,000 Israelis dead and thousands more
lished in 1967 — when several eastern
ular border crossing does.
Jerusalem neighborhoods were seized
For decades, the security officials
Line Is Drawn
Now, however, a line will be drawn
between those living in the city and
those living in its Palestinian suburbs,
for whom the city is the center of their
economic and social lives.
"The wall will result in the most dra-
matic changes to the Jerusalem bound-
aries and its people since 1967," said a
December 2003 report by the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied
Palestinians say the wall creates mad-
dening practical obstacles.
'All of our people are angry about
this. I cannot visit my family there," said
Ahmed Sabek, a taxi van driver, gestur-
ing to the West Bank side of the wall,
and they cannot visit us here."
But Moshe Karmi, a retired diamond
polisher was born in Jerusalem and
fought there in the wars of 1948 and
1967, said Palestinians have left Israel
with no choice.
"I'm for the fence. It's for our securi-
ty," Karmi said. "We want to live and
they are trying to kill us. We also have a
right to live here."
Military officials stress that for now,
the wall is the only answer.
"The establishment of the fence is part
of the army's battle against Palestinian
terror," Capt. Gil Limon, a member of
the Israel Defense Forces' legal staff in
the West Bank, told an overflow audi-
ence at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel
Studies during a recent public debate on
the Jerusalem portion of the fence. "It's
part dour self- defense."
In the southern Jerusalem neighbor-
hood of Gilo, which regularly came