Saturday, November 14, 2009
Palestinians Breach Separation Fence
From Haaretz, November 9, 2009:
Activists breached a hole in the West Bank wall for the second time in less than a week on Monday in a demonstration to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Their faces masked, the activists tethered a 2-meter wide section of the cement barrier to a truck which then pulled it over. The crowd of around 50, which had gathered at a section of the barrier near an Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya, cheered as the 6-meter high section fell. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at the crowd, some of whom threw stones over the wall. Several demonstrators passed through the gap they had created, hoisting a Palestinian flag and setting ablaze tires on the other side.
On Friday, during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Na’alin, where activists and Palestinians gather every Friday to protest the route of the fence, masked Palestinian youths breached a section of the wall that runs through the village, while Israeli border guards fired tear gas and a foul-smelling spray from behind the high concrete barrier. Protesters levered open a space under one the pre-cast panels and used a hydraulic car-jack to topple it out of position. “No matter how tall, all walls fall,” read one banner pasted onto the structure by Palestinian youths assisted by Israeli activists, who say the wall on Palestinian land and through Palestinian communities is simply a land grab by Israel.
The panels of the walls in Israel’s separation barrier are cast in the same inverted T-shape as the wall constructed through Berlin by communist East Germany. Israel began building its barrier of fences and walls at the height of the Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 and it now runs along most of the West Bank border, at many points encroaching into West Bank territory.
It says it was built to prevent suicide bombers entering Israel and has largely succeeded in doing so. Palestinians see it as an attempt to seize land on which they aim to establish an independent state. “Today we commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” said Abdullah Abu Rahma, leader of the People’s Campaign to Fight the Wall. “This is the first step in a series of activities we will be holding in the coming days to express our firm attachment to our land and our rejection of this wall.”
In a non-binding decision in 2004, the International Court of Justice said the barrier was illegal and should be taken own because it crossed occupied territory.
Israeli leaders have said the barrier is a temporary obstacle that could be removed once a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed.
Masked activists used a lorry to tear down a cement block of the wall [AFP]
From Al Jazeera:
Abdullah Abu Rahma, leader of the People's Campaign to Fight the Wall, said: "Today we commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. "This is the beginning of the activities, which we do, to express our hold on our land, and our refusal to this wall - the wall of torture, the wall of humiliation."
Activists have vowed to hold a week of protests in the Palestinian territories and around the world, including a campaign calling for the release of all anti-wall activists currently imprisoned. Last Friday, Palestinian youths almost toppled a segment of wall using a hydraulic car-jack in the West Bank village of Nilin. Protests against the wall have become a regular event in Nilin and in the nearby village of Bilin, where Palestinian, international and Israeli activists are commonly confronted by tear gas and rubber bullets fired by Israeli troops.
Israel began building its barrier, consisting of fences and walls, in 2002, citing security reasons. The wall is up to 8m high in places, twice the height of the former Berlin wall. Palestinian sources anticipate that it may be more than 750km-long when construction is finished, more than four times the length of the Berlin wall.
Palestinians say the route of the wall has been set in such a way that it grabs land that could have been included in a future Palestinian state. The International Court of Justice, in a non-binding decision in 2004, said the Israeli-built barrier was illegal and should be taken down because it crossed into occupied territory. A report by Stop the Wall, a Palestinian coalition of NGOs opposed to the wall, said that in 2007 alone, Israel demolished more than 160 houses and appropriated more than 3sq km of land in the Palestinian West Bank in its construction of the wall.