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StandWithUs (SWU) is an international and non-partisan Israel education organization that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism.

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Factsheets

The Security Barrier

Print Version

In 2002 Israel began building a security barrier to stop more of its innocent men, women, and children from being murdered in suicide bombings. While the barrier has been successful in saving Israeli lives, it has also created hardships for some Palestinians. Unfortunately, terrorists have forced Israel to make a terrible choice: make life more difficult for Palestinian civilians or allow more Israeli civilians to be killed in the streets.

Israel built the security barrier for one purpose: to prevent racist terrorist groups from killing Israeli civilians.

  • Israel began building the security barrier in 2002, during a brutal Palestinian suicide  bombing and terrorist campaign which claimed the lives of 1,000 Israelis, over 70% of them civilians.[1]

 

  • Before Israel began building the fence, no natural or artificial barrier prevented terrorists from simply walking into Israel and attacking innocent Israelis. Since Israel began building the barrier casualties from terrorist attacks have dropped by over 90%.[2]

The security barrier does not annex any land in the West Bank

  • Israel has not annexed any land in the West Bank - the­­ land used for the barrier remains the property of the owner. The sections built within the West Bank are there only to protect Israeli civilian communities.[3]

  • Israel offered Palestinian owners compensation for the use of their land, budgeted  $540 million to ease the lives of Palestinians affected by the barrier, and replanted  60,000 Palestinian olive trees.[4]

 

  • Palestinians can file legal suits to change the route of the barrier and have done so  successfully on numerous occasions.[5] Israel has moved the barrier away from the villages of Bil’in, Azzun, Nebi Alias, and others.[6]

97% of the barrier is chain link fence.

Roughly 3% is a wall, mainly to prevent snipers from shooting Israeli drivers.

7% of the West Bank lies on the west side of the barrier, next to Israel.

The security barrier does not violate the 4th Geneva Convention, as some claim.

  • The 4th Geneva Convention does not apply to the West Bank according to numerous legal scholars, including former Dean of Yale Law School Eugene Rostow.[7]

 

  • Even if the 4th Geneva Convention did apply, the barrier does not violate it because the Convention allows occupying powers to take proportionate measures to maintain security and protect civilians. The barrier, which has saved countless civilian lives, fits into this category.[8]

 

  • Israel voluntarily applies certain aspects of the 4th Geneva Convention to safeguard the rights of Palestinian civilians. It has rerouted the security barrier on numerous occasions to avoid causing disproportionate harm to Palestinian residents.[9]

 

  • Multiple democratic countries use similar barriers to keep the peace in conflict-prone areas. Examples include India’s barrier in Kashmir and the Peace Lines in Northern Ireland. 

 

When the two communities reach a peace agreement and the threat of Palestinian terrorism ceases the barrier can be removed.

[1] Civilian casualty ratio Sept. 2000-2009 – Israeli Security Agency, “Distribution of Fatalities from Palestinian-based terrorism in the second Intifadah,” 2009, at http://www.shabak.gov.il/English/EnTerrorData/Reviews/Pages/terror-victims.aspx;

B’Tselem, “Fatalities after operation ‘Cast Lead,’” October 31, 2012, at http://old.btselem.org/statistics/english/Casualties.asp?sD=19&sM=01&sY=2009&filterby=event&oferet_stat=after

[2] Mitchell Bard, “Israel’s Security Fence,” Jewish Virtual Library, July 8, 2010, at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/fence.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Tovah Lazaroff, Dan Izenberg, “IDF rerouting barrier near Bil’in,” Jerusalem Post, February 11, 2010, at http://www.jpost.com/Israel/IDF-rerouting-barrier-near-Bilin;

Haggai Huberman, “Ministry of Defense is building a new fence,” Israel National News, December 1, 2011, at http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/229606;

Zafir Rinat, “Different separation fence, but the landscape remains scarred,” Haaretz, March 20, 2011, at http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/science/1.1167733

[7] Laurence E. Rothenberg and Abraham Bell, “Israel’s Anti-Terror Fence: The World Court Case,” JCPA, February 15, 2004, at http://jcpa.org/jl/vp513.htm;

Maurice Ostroff, “Articles by Eugene W. Rostow,” n.d., at http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id45.html;

Julius Stone, “International Law and the Arab-Israel Conflict,” 2003, at http://www.strateias.org/international_law.pdf

[8] Laurence E. Rothenberg and Abraham Bell, “Israel’s Anti-Terror Fence: The World Court Case,” JCPA, February 15, 2004, at http://jcpa.org/jl/vp513.htm

[9] Daphne Barak-Erez, “Israel: The security barrier-between international law, constitutional law, and domestic judicial review,” Oxford University Press and New York University School of Law, July 2006, http://www.tau.ac.il/law/barakerez/articals/barrier.pdf

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