A mix of Palestinians, West Bank settlers, environmentalists and developers, have all united in opposition to the construction of the separation barrier in an area around Jerusalem (Haaretz).
Environmentalists and settlers of Gush Etzion are opposed to the destruction of the natural landscape. Also, a development company called Givat Yael, though self-interested, drew up an alternative route that Israel rejected. The alternative would have met security goals, had a smaller impact on the Palestinian village of Al-Walaja, and allowed the company to continue with its development plans (Haaretz). Israel’s rejection of the alternative gives more credence to the idea that the wall is not motivated by security, but rather demographics, as the proposed placement of the barrier blocks off the village.
The construction of the barrier has had especially dire consequences for Palestinians, and has resulted in the loss of land, expulsion of families, isolation, uprooting of trees, and destruction of agricultural infrastructure.
Palestinian residents of the village Al-Walaja in the area are understandably worried, as most depend on the land for survival. Just yesterday, 82 olive trees were uprooted in the village in order to make room for the barrier. One resident, Ahmed Barghout, will now be separated from his land, as well as his parents’ graves.
Israel cites security reasons as the need for the barrier, while Palestinians see it as apartheid and Israel’s attempt to annex more land. Indeed, the barrier deviates substantially from the Green Line border between the West Bank and Israel, cutting into West Bank land significantly. When completed, the wall will have annexed about 10% of West Bank land.
Israel continues to play the defense card in order to justify its illegal actions. Even if Israel claims security as a reason for the barrier, it has constructed the barrier in a way that is most harmful to Palestinians. In its construction, Israel has included 60 settlements, while isolating some Palestinian villages, thereby halting Palestinian expansion and economic activity. Israel’s refusal to build the already extreme barrier along the armistice lines highlights Israel’s hypocritical nature; it will not allow Palestinians the right to life and self-determination that Israel wanted for itself.