No natural barriers separate Israel and the West Bank. After 1967, Palestinians and Israelis traveled freely between the two areas.
But when the terrorist campaign erupted in 2000, Israel had to prevent terrorists from easily entering Israeli communities. Just as the U.S. and other countries worldwide increased airport security procedures after 9/11, Israel instituted strict counterterrorism measures after the Intifada began.
Though they inconvenience Israelis and Palestinians, the purpose of the checkpoints and the security fence is to save lives.
Security Fence: Israel did not begin building the fence until 2003, when terrorism reached unprecedented levels.
- The fence is similar to barriers that dozens of other democracies have built to keep out terrorists or illegal immigrants, such as the barriers between the U.S. and Mexico, India and Kashmir, Spain and Morocco, North and South Korea and even the walls within Belfast that separate Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods.
- Since construction of the fence began in 2003, the number of completed terrorist attacks has dropped by more than 90 percent.
- Ninety-seven percent of the barrier is only a chain-link fence; about 3 percent (10 miles) is a concrete wall, built to prevent sniper shooting prevalent in certain areas.
- Only 5 percent to 8 percent of the disputed West Bank land and less than 1 percent of Palestinians will end up on the Israeli side of the fence.1
Palestinians can bring their specific grievances about the barrier to Israel’s Supreme Court, which in several cases has ruled in favor of the Palestinian claimants, and the fence was rerouted.2
1-David Makovsky and Anna Hartman, “Israel’s Newly Approved Security Fence Route: Geography and Demography,” The Washington Institute, March 3, 2005.
2-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Summary of High Court of Justice Ruling on the Fence Surrounding Alfei Menashe,” September 15, 2005.
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