Israel is a country that boasts a carefree, Middle Eastern attitude, luxurious beaches, technological advancements (the
streets of Tel Aviv are paved with wifi), and historical and religious significance. To the average uninformed tourist or consumer, Israel is an oasis in the middle of a war torn region, a prime vacation destination that is slowly becoming one of the world’s leaders in technology. But behind this seemingly perfect façade lies an ugly truth – this sacred, beautiful, fun country is living off of the illegal occupation of the Palestinian state that has lasted for nearly 45 years.
Although there are many disputed borders between the West Bank and Israel proper, Israel has spent the last 10 years building a wall, which now stretches to about 450 km between the West Bank and Israel. According to an Al Jazeera article published in January 2013, 85 percent of the wall has been built inside the West Bank leading to the annexation of 530 sq. km. of Palestinian land – equivalent to the size of the city of Chicago. This wall has successfully accomplished what they intended to do – the Israeli Ministry of Defense has stated that “terror has been reduced over 90 percent” since the wall was constructed. But the most important affects of the wall have not been to Israel’s sense of security, but rather the affects felt by the West Bank villages that are located near the wall.
These villages, such as Bi’ilin, the site of popular weekly protests and the subject of the 2011 Oscar-nominated documentary “5 Broken Cameras,” have suffered the most due to the separation wall. Not only does this wall cut off Palestinians from farming land and much needed resources, but it also creates a separation between these villages and other communities within the West Bank, and, most importantly, with East Jerusalem. These limitations on the movement of goods and people has stifled the Palestinian economy for the last ten years, limiting the country’s ability to develop a stable economy or a sense of community. Family is very important in the Arab community and social life, but the wall prohibits family members who are living on the West Bank side of the wall from visiting family members in Jerusalem or Gaza. This has had a detrimental affect on the collective Palestinian social psyche.
The current occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel is the only occupation in the modern world. It has also been deemed illegal under international law. In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory statement that the separation barrier built between the West Bank and Israel is illegal under international law. The borders between Israel and its neighbors is theirs to control, but it is imperative that this barrier be created in a fashion that does not have such dire isolating effects on the Palestinian community. The current border does.