Why does Israel need the security fence?
Friday 13th Feb 2004
1) Three years ago, Israel and the Palestinians seemed on the path towards peace. Yet Yasser Arafat rejected this path and started a campaign of terror, which has claimed over 900 Israelis lives to date, including 109 children, and wounded more than 5000 Israelis. Ordinary settings like buses and malls have become targets for Palestinian suicide bombers.
2) Still today, the Palestinian leadership refuses to fulfill its commitment to fight terror as outlined in the “Road Map.” As long as Palestinian leadership refuses to follow its obligations, and as long as the killing of innocent Israelis continues, the State of Israel is forced to take a defensive stand. It is Israel’s right and responsibility to provide security for its citizens.
3) The decision to construct a security fence is one which Israel has arrived at with great reluctance. However, an overwhelming majority of Israelis from all points of the political spectrum have come to the conclusion that it is unfortunately now a necessity.
4) The fence is a temporary measure against an immediate threat, and is not ideologically or politically motivated. It is not intended to establish a border, but rather to create a terror free environment in which a border can be agreed through negotiations. Furthermore, it does not change the status of the land, its ownership, nor the legal status of the residents of these areas.
5) The fence is entirely legal under international humanitarian law. This specifically allows for territory to be requisitioned for temporary security purposes, as long as 1) there is a clear security need, 2) there is no infringement on the owner’s rights and 3) full compensation is paid to the owners of the land. All of these requirements are met in this instance.
6) If Palestinian attacks were to stop, the fence would no longer be necessary. In the past, Israel has dismantled expensive security structures in the Sinai and later in the West Bank when a perceived opportunity for peace and diplomatic agreements required such steps.
7) The concept of a security fence is both tried and tested. A similar fence in the Gaza Strip has ensured that almost no terrorists have succeeded in penetrating into Israel.
8) In fact, in those areas of the West Bank where a fence has been constructed, a reduction in terrorist attacks is already evident. For, example, the city of Hadera, situated in the heart of Israel, has suffered a series of murderous suicide bombings coming from the West Bank. Since the construction began on the northern sector of the security fence, which shields the region of Hadera, there has been a substantial period of tranquility. This same improvement is true for other Israeli cities and communities now safeguarded by the fence.
9) It has been suggested that Israel should have constructed the fence along the so-called ‘Green Line’. Notwithstanding the fact that the ‘Green Line’ has never represented an international boundary, such a claim misunderstands the aim of the fence, which is to frustrate acts of terrorism directed against Israeli population centres. The route has been defined solely by security and topographical needs - for example, using elevated land in order to provide greater vision and protection - and only affects 1.7% of the West Bank area.
10) It is erroneous and misleading to term it a “wall". In fact only 5% of its length is made of concrete, in those areas where Palestinian terrorists can, and have, shot at Israeli civilians on roads or in nearby towns.
11) Israel knows that at all times the rights of civilians to protection from terrorism have to be weighed against the rights and interests of local populations. The use of public and unused lands has been of the highest priority. In the relatively limited number of circumstances where this has been impossible, compensation matching the properties' value is provided for the use of the land and any damage to trees and crops. In addition, owners of agricultural land are also provided with compensation for the full value of their crop yield for as long as the property will need to be used.
12) Dozens of agricultural gates have already been established along the route of the fence to enable farmers to continue cultivating their lands. In addition, new crossing points have been added for Israeli and Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles, and the transfer of goods.
13) All residents have the opportunity to file a petition directly with the Israeli Supreme Court to submit objections. In numerous cases, the authorities and the complainants have reached mutual agreement regarding alterations of the path.
14) Any comparison with the Berlin Wall is false and malicious. Unlike that wall, it does not seek to divide one people and curtail freedoms. Rather it aims to separate two peoples who are in conflict, to prevent suicide bombers from targeting innocent civilians, and so create a terror-free environment in which finally the two sides can move towards a peaceful settlement.
15) There would have been no need for a security fence had there not been an orchestrated campaign of terrorism that targets Israeli men, women and children. Israel's desire to protect these innocent lives provided its only motivation for establishing the Security Fence.
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