The separation wall being built in the West Bank has created enormous changes in surrounding areas. The wall penetrates deeply into occupied territory, creating land enclaves and imprisoning Palestinians in land space cut off from the State of Israel and, at the same time, isolated from the rest of the Occupied Territories. The wall tramples on the property rights of Palestinians living near it. The construction of the wall entails the seizure of vast amounts of land, and the destruction of plantations, groves, and fields. The living conditions of Palestinians who reside near the wall have become intolerable: many Palestinians residing east of the wall are unable to reach and cultivate their farmland, and Palestinians living west of the wall have trouble reaching West Bank cities, schools, medical centers and treatment, commercial centers, and their relatives, because of the limited hours in which the gates of the wall are open and the need for special permits. The wall thus infringes the residents’ fundamental rights to movement, to gain a living, to education, health, and to a minimal degree of dignity.
In the space between the wall and the Green Line, Israel operates a regime that discriminates between Jews and Palestinians. The military commander’s declaration of land as a military area and its accompanying orders close the seam area to Palestinians, whose families have lived in the area for hundreds of years. Jews, on the other hand, even if they are not Israeli citizens, are free to move about without limitation. The result is an apartheid regime that distinguishes between residents based on their ethnic background. Making a distinction on ethnic grounds is a crime under international law. For a detailed description of this regime, see HaMoked’s petition in HCJ 9961/03, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual v. The Government of Israel et al.
The wall has generated numerous petitions to the High Court of Justice. Some of the petitions request the court to order the state to dismantle the wall in certain areas in which residents’ rights have been violated, other petitions oppose the arbitrary policy in opening the gates in the wall, and some petitions contend that construction of the wall in occupied territory is illegal and demand that the permit regime instituted by Israel be cancelled, which was the substance of HaMoked’s petition.
On 30 June 2004, the High Court of Justice voided about thirty kilometers along the route of the wall northwest of Jerusalem. The court held that the route in that area disproportionately violated the rights of the residents of villages along the route, and that the harm could be significantly diminished by choosing an alternate route. (See HaMoked’s Website for the petition and the HCJ’s judgment.) Following the court’s decision, the wall’s route was reconsidered by the state, and the HCJ issued temporary injunctions in some petitions, preventing construction on other sections of the wall.
On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, published its advisory opinion on the wall. It held that construction of the wall, and the regime that Israel instituted to accompany it, violate international law, and that Israel must tear it down and compensate the Palestinians who suffered loss as a result of its construction.
Completely ignoring the ICJ’s advisory opinion, and despite delays in construction resulting from petitions to the HCJ, the wall is still being built, and with it the de facto annexation of areas into the State of Israel and the gross violations of the residents’ rights continue.