Socioenvironmental Impacts of the Israeli Wall

Socioenvironmental Impacts of the Israeli Wall

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By Palestina Lliure

The military occupation for more than fifty years by the Israeli army in Palestine has been an uninterrupted chain of attacks against human rights. One of the last and most serious has been the construction of a wall that aims to separate not only the occupied Palestinian territories (TTOO) from the Israeli territory, but the Palestinians themselves from each other.

When talking about the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the environmental issue is not usually touched, an aspect that greatly worries the population of the Occupied Territories. This article, written by the Valencian collective Palestina Lliure, aims to delve into the environmental and social problems raised by the "wall of shame" erected by Israel in the West Bank

The construction of the Israeli wall in Palestine: social and environmental impacts

Like any military occupation, the one carried out for more than fifty years by the Israeli army in Palestine has represented an uninterrupted and constant chain of attacks against fundamental human rights. One of the latest and most serious has been the design and construction, since the summer of 2002, of a wall that aims to separate not only the occupied Palestinian territories (TTOO) from Israeli territory, but the Palestinians themselves from each other.

The first phase of the erection of this construction has caused significant impacts on the daily lives of the Palestinians and on their environment. In this last area, vital for the economy of the Palestinian populations in the West Bank - closely linked to agriculture - the information that reaches us through the media rarely goes beyond a simple anecdotal comment. This article aims to alleviate, even minimally, this information gap.

A short introduction In 1947, resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly proposes the division of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. 56% of the territory with a population of 499,000 Jews and 510,000 Palestinian Arabs would be allocated to the Jewish state, while the Arab state, with 43% of the territory, would host 747,000 Palestinians and 10,000 Jews. The Arabs rejected this distribution and the conflicts grew until in May 1948, the Jewish community unilaterally declared the creation of the State of Israel, an act that triggered the military intervention of the neighboring Arab States; the 1948 war, in which the State of Israel appropriated 78% of historic Palestine, causing the expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes. After the armistice, a border called the Green Line was drawn between the West Bank and Israel and the UN then adopted resolution 242 by which the Security Council asked Israel to withdraw the TTOO.

In 1967, Israel militarily seized the remaining 22% of historic Palestine: Gaza and the West Bank. From then until today the state of Israel has promoted an effective campaign to build Jewish settlements within the TTOO. These settlements - totally contrary to international law - have resulted in the fragmentation of the Palestinian territory, a fact that makes the constitution of a viable Palestinian state extremely difficult.

Natural areas in Palestine

Despite being a highly anthropized area since time immemorial, Palestine still has interesting natural spaces of great ecological value and areas where human activity has developed in harmony with the environment. These areas, protected in many cases by the Palestinians themselves, suffer not a few attacks by the authorities of the Israeli state. Such is the case, for example, of Wadi Al-Majrur, in the district of Bethlehem, a beautiful area of ​​cultivated fields and forests in which many springs emerge. The Israeli authorities have confiscated land in this region to build illegal settlements; These areas and their corresponding communication routes have had a very negative impact on these valuable places and on the Palestinian capacity to manage its own natural resources. The same occurs in Qenya, near Ramallah, a place rich in springs where olive trees planted in Roman times survive and gazelles abound. Here, illegal settlements have caused an alarming drop in the water table. The few Palestinian wooded areas are not spared either: in the Umm as-Safa region (where the Pomeranian Eagle nests) the Israeli army conducts military training and the Umm ar-Rihan forest, near Jenin, is seeing its extension decrease due to to illegal settlements.

In this state of affairs, in which not even the most valuable Palestinian enclaves are respected by Israeli expansion plans, the construction of the wall is leading to yet another turn of the screw in the expropriation of Palestinian assets and ultimately, their resources. natural and landscape.

What is the wall?

In June 2002, Israel begins to erect what has been emphatically called the "separation barrier" or "security wall." The widespread excuse that accompanies the construction of this infrastructure is that of protecting Israelis from attack by Palestinian terrorists.

However, the plans for the project and what has been built so far clearly show the true Israeli objectives: to carry out the expansionist policy of the Zionist government, through the appropriation of more than 50% of the land; the annexation of Jerusalem, the appropriation of the water resources of the West Bank (approximately 85%), the annexation of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, the acquisition of more land for settlements and the isolation of certain Palestinian enclaves to facilitate their control.

The wall takes different forms throughout its journey. In Qalqiliya it is an eight meter high concrete wall provided with watchtowers. In other areas it manifests itself in the form of a succession of metal fences -some electrified- crowned with barbed wire and complemented by surveillance cameras, sand paths to allow the printing of footprints, moats, buffer zones and service roads for the Israeli border police vehicles. All this panoply has a width of between 70 and 100 meters.

The first phase of the wall

The first 145 kilometers of wall built in the first phase (currently it is going for 500km and the final goal is 700) extend from the village of Zububa, in the Yenin district, to 'Azzun' Atma, in Qalqiliya, areas in which 22% of the West Bank population lives.

The wall has not respected the Green Line in either of the two districts and its construction has been introduced up to 6 kilometers into Palestinian territory, which has left about 122,000 square meters on the Israeli side. The winding route of the wall has created dozens of isolated Palestinian enclaves, separating the population from their farmland, fountains and public services, which means, among other things, the inability to access educational or medical centers and Obligation to overcome doors and gates to go to work the fields.

Only in its first phase, the construction of the wall has meant the destruction of 30 kilometers of water pipes, a whopping 102,320 uprooted trees (mostly olive trees), the demolition of 85 commercial buildings and dozens of agricultural sheds, along with the confiscation and construction of the 14,680 square meters that the wall itself occupies.

Sixty-five communities have been directly affected by the erection of the wall, that is, some 206,000 people. Of these communities, 51 have seen their access to most of their arable and grazing lands interrupted, a fact that, taking into account the precarious situation of the Palestinian economy in recent years, is putting the very survival of the inhabitants at risk. of these areas, forced to practice subsistence agriculture and livestock.

It should be noted that the lands that have remained between the Green Line and the wall are among the most fertile and rich in water resources in Palestine. The construction of the first phase of the wall has meant the de facto annexation on the Israeli side of more than 80,000 m2, including fruit plantations, about 10,000 m2 of crops with irrigation systems, more than 18,000 m2 of vegetable gardens. olive trees, 18,540 m2 of forests and areas of sclerophyllous vegetation and 17,650 m2 of grasslands.

Campaign against the apartheid wall

Armed with split onions - a home remedy against the effects of tear gas - the women of the villages affected by the construction of the wall face the Israeli police who protect workers and workers. Faced with the chants and slogans of protest, the police respond with smoke bombs, rubber bullets and shock explosives. In the orchards where the olive trees are uprooted by the hundreds to facilitate the advance of the wall, the Israeli border police lock up in farm sheds the old farmers who come to defend their crops and viciously beat the young people who dare to protest.

The lifting of the wall is being carried out with the usual violence used by the Israeli state, but an effective opposition campaign - which brings together a large number of Palestinian entities and organizations, including environmental groups, farmers' associations, health committees. … And to which Israeli associations such as Green Action, Anarchists against the wall or Ta'Ayush have joined - it has managed to spread the consequences of the implementation of the wall to many parts of the planet.

In the Spanish state, numerous groups in solidarity with Palestine have been conducting awareness campaigns for months, promoting the boycott of Israeli products and demanding the suspension of the Association Agreement between the EU and Israel. The Hague Court judgment of July 9, 2004 urges Israel to halt the construction of the wall and destroy what was erected, restoring the confiscated properties and adequately compensating the affected populations. This sentence has not been recognized or complied with by Israel, before the impassive gaze of the international community that continues to maintain normal political and commercial relations with the Jewish state. Once again, the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people, protected by international law, remain on paper. Given the passivity of governments, it is up to citizens to make visible our commitment to building a more just and respectful world and that change will only come from our ability to promote direct citizen participation.

* Sources and links:
The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), The wall in Palestine, 2003, PENGON, Jerusalem;
Wildlife Palestine Society (WPLS);
Valencian Collective Palestina Lliure ;
Green Action;
Elx-Alacant Antimilitarist Group

Video: The apartheid road: West Bank highway sparks controversy (June 2022).


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