The Barrier Wall is a barrier to peace: The six-year anniversary of an ICJ ruling

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion against the legality of the West Bank Barrier Wall. Six years later, the Wall still stands to plague any possible idea of peace in the territory. (View the ruling here.)

According to Israeli officials, the purpose of the Barrier Wall is to eliminate any threat of a Palestinian attack in Israeli territory. Published statistics show that the number of suicide bombings in particular has decreased since the beginning of the Wall’s construction in 2002. But what effect has it had on Palestinians?

They’ve lost even more land. The United Nations calculated that more than 9% of the West Bank will be on the wrong side of the wall. Entire villages are separated from the rest of the Palestinian community.

They’ve lost their jobs. High unemployment rates force Palestinians to search for jobs in Israeli territories. The Barrier Wall almost completely prevents them from crossing into Israel. Unemployment rates steadily increase and the already unstable Palestinian economy takes the hit.

They’ve remained sick. Medical facilities in Palestine aren’t as advanced as those in Israel. Many times, patients are forced to transfer to Israeli hospitals that are more capable of treating their cases. But there have been many accounts of ambulances turned back, and patients have died while waiting to cross checkpoints embedded within the Wall.

They’ve been punished. The Wall arbitrarily incarcerates and punishes every single inhabitant of the West Bank, regardless of political activity or affiliation. It’s been recognized as the world’s largest open-air prison.

So is the Barrier Wall really worth it? Israel is more than capable of developing a more effective method of security without humiliating the Palestinians caged within the Wall. It is understandable that security is a primary concern, but if that’s the case, security for the Palestinian people is required as well.

Exactly six years ago, the International Court of Justice recognized the Barrier Wall’s effect on the Palestinian and Israeli people and has since called on Israel to remove the barrier. Peace can only come through mutual interaction and respect between two factions. How is that even possible with a concrete wall blocking any and all interaction? How do you earn respect while restricting rights or punishing innocents? These are simple questions that have an even simpler answer: Remove the Barrier Wall and you will remove a significant barrier to peace.

Sami Kishawi

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