Article by Nadeen Odeh (UWCAC 2015-2017)
It has been described as one of the most infamous man-made structures in the globe. In some places it is as high as 8 meters (26 feet), making it twice the height of the Berlin Wall. A high concrete barrier, equipped with army watchtowers and military-only roads in some places, or a combination of trenches and electrified fences, monitored by army control rooms in others. It runs 280 miles long, basically the distance between Philadelphia and Boston. It has been under construction for the past 13 years, and is still not done. According to the International Court of Justice, this wall is completely illegal. Are you wondering where this exists? Well, it is in Palestine.
The Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and Gaza started in 1967. Directly after the 1967 war, Israeli policies began to negatively affect the physical, social, and cultural systems in the West Bank. The main aim of the Israeli Occupation was to segregate the urban structure of the West Bank and create an Israeli presence around Palestinian cities and villages.
In 1973, in a dialog between Ariel Sharon and Winston S. Churchill. Sharon was asked about how Israel will deal with the Palestinians in future, he responded, “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them, we’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlements in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlements right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years’ time, neither the United Nations nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.”
The wall doesn’t only separate the neighborhoods, but also commandeers the Palestinians’ lands by cutting olive trees and destroying the nature too. It helped in the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, starting with 33 Israeli settlements in 1975 and reaching 150, which have been segregating the West Bank into small cities and villages and seizing all water sources till this moment.
As a consequence, it prevents residents of villages from reaching health services, and seize their agricultural lands, causing difficulties for the farmers to access their farmlands and sell agricultural crops, thus creating unavoidable difficulties in movement. The biggest barrier for Palestinians now in their daily life is that they are required to have permits in order to go to the other side of the wall.
After finalizing the establishment of the wall, 71 illegal Israeli settlements were inhabited by 341,000 Israeli settlers. 80% of the total number of the settlers in the West Bank will be annexed to Israel. When this wall is completed, an area the size of Chicago will have been added to the Israeli side of the wall.
So there you have it now. This wall, a fixture of the Israeli occupation has destroyed many Palestinian neighborhoods, strangled the economy, and illegally seized a massive area of the Palestinian land. The Palestinians call it The Apartheid Wall, and the question is, how long will it stand?