Page 5   The Separation Barrier, The Wall.

If you travel with a standard tour, going to the places that Israel thinks of as "safe" and proper for tourists, you may well not become aware of the current problems.  In an attempt to reduce suicide bombings - an effort which has been considerably successful, Israel has been building a "separation barrier" - which is sometimes a wall and sometimes a complex of multiple fences - to separate Israelis and Palestinians in the territories occupied since 1967.

Here we see some of the wall under construction.   Where it runs along a highway used by Israelis, it often appears rather like the sound barrier walls along superhighways in the United States. Where it snakes between Palestinian neighborhoods. As it does for example on the edges of the city limits of East Jerusalem, it can be much more unattractive  and often gets the same sort of graffiti that used to be on the wall around West Berlin.


The wall does not run along the old 1948 borders.  Now, quite frankly, the 1948 to 1967 borders were a bit bizarre.  The line snaked through the city of Jerusalem, even with enclaves that did not connect.  Here is a map just showing the Jerusalem area

You can see the old line in green, some of the new barrier in red, and proposed or under-construction barrier places in dotted red - many of those were done when we were there.  Note how far east the proposed additions are - all the way into the desert area of Judea, which effectively cuts any North-South roads for the Palestinians.

You can see how close in Bethlehem is, the brown area south of the center.

I do feel sorry for the poor city planners of Jerusalem. It is natural to want suburbs- but you know that some day there will be a border, and have no idea where it will be, or when.

Let's look at a blow-up close to the center of Jerusalem.
Brown shows the Palestinian areas, blue shows the Jewish ones.  The Old City is the white block just next to the old green line; the green block northeast of it is an Israeli enclave surrounded by the Jordanians from 1948 to 1967, containing the old hospital and university built by the Jews prior to 1948.

Can you see Abu Tor, just south of the Old City?  During 1948 to 1967 the Jordanians did not allow the Palestinians to have universities. When Israel took over in 1967, it allowed the establishment of Palestinian Universities. Al Kuds University, the Palestinian University in Jerusalem - it helps if you know that the city is called Al Kuds in Arabic - has its main campus at Abu Tor. 

Distant view of wall - city tightly behind the wallWhen the wall was built around the "new" city limits of Jerusalem, it left the campus outside - cutting it off from most of its students.

One feature of the wall around Jerusalem is how often it separates a village from its agricultural fields. In some cases, as to the right, the idea is to leave open space for Jerusalem to grow into, without including the Palestinian population.

In other cases, the people demanded to be included in Jerusalem and Israel agreed, but left out the fields. Below is a picture at Sur Bahir on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem; we stood with a villager behind his house, and could see his olive trees,  but he can't get to them without going many miles to a crossing point.
downhill view of fences and orchardroad with electrified fence and razor wire

To the right  you see the structure of the barrier:  razor wire on both sides of an army patrol road, electrified fence on one side.

man standing beside truck and houses
  Here is the man who owns the olive trees but cannot get to them. He is actually rather well off - he is a schoolteacher in Jerusalem, teaching mathematics, so he gets paid by the Israeli government. He has managed to send his sons to college.  The truck belongs to one of his sons, who has a business delivering bottled water - many of the Palestinian neighborhoods have little or no good water supply.

Here is a small portion of a UN map showing some of the area around Hebron

The black triangles denote "Earth mounds" - most often where a cross street has been blocked so that Palestinians cannot enter or cross a road used by Israelis. The white areas are reserved for Israelis or the Israeli military, to ensure security or to allow Israelis to go to and from the settlements, such as the ones shown in red near Hebron. The effect is to cut the West Bank up into small areas, and it is very difficult for Palestinians to travel from one small area to another. The announced intent is  to have a system of bridges and tunnels so that the Palestinian areas interconnect, but there is little visible progress on that.  Some Palestinians, the ones who have learned enough Jewish history, compare the Palestinian areas to the ghettos in which the Jews were often confined in Europe.

I am unconvinced that any amount of "separation" is really a cure.  While I'll talk elsewhere about the need for a functioning Palestinian economy,  It is essential to stress how close these places are to one another.  Here, taken from the web, is a photo taken by a peace group. They are standing on a hill in the West Bank - clearly Palestinian territory. And when you look down, you see downtown Tel Aviv in the distance.

Panoramic view looking downhill on Tel Aviv

Here is an enlargement of the center portion:
zoom in of skyscrapers in the distance

Keeping the Palestinians subjugated is at most a short-term solution.  Very short-term, as is known from the rockets crossing the borders from time to time on the Gaza and Lebanese borders.  I can understand Israel not wanting rocket launchers on this hilltop. What is needed is a way to live together in peace.


Ordman Net Home
Israel/Palestine Info Home

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2:  Kfar Shalem
Page 3: Duheisha Refugee Camp
Page 4:  Universities
Page 5: The Wall / Security Barrier
Next >   Page 6:  Bethlehem
Page 7:  Efrat
Page 8: Hebron
(More to come)