The wall this new obscenity: as international attention is focussed on Iraq and the prospect of an American attack there, Israel is forging ahead with the construction of a wall--costing $1.7 million a mile that will effectively turn the West Bank into the world's largest prison.

Author:Shahin, Mariam
Position:Israel - Cover Story

In a few short weeks the concrete foundations of a wall, eight metres high and more than 250 miles long, which will effectively imprison the Palestinians of the West Bank, will be in place. Preparations for construction of the wall began last June. The first section will stretch for 72 miles from Salem village, west of Jenin, forming a loop around the city of Qalqilya, the closest West Bank town to the Mediterranean and only eight miles from Tel Aviv. In the past few weeks Israel has made preparations by encircling Qalqilya with a 10-foot fence and barbed wire confiscating over 55% of the surrounding arable land. There is only one way out--with Israeli permission--and the Israelis rarely grant permits to leave. The Israeli government calls the wall "the separation fence" and says it will contain suicide bombers. The Palestinians say the wall is not protecting Israeli citizens but instead protecting Israel's occupation, its illegal colonies and its ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land.

Thanks to an electrically wired concrete fence, twice as long and three times as high as the Berlin Wall, the Palestinian-Israeli dance of death will be incubated until a more viable solution can be found, according to Israeli liberals.

To be constructed east of Israel's 1967 border inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the 250 mile "security" wall will de facto annex yet more Palestinian land. This is to some extent consistent with Israeli government policies, both Likud and Labor, which have repeatedly said Israel will not return to the pre-1967 border, thus further annexation is nothing but more of the same. Not only is Israel building a wall, it has also begun erecting militarily enforced electrified fences around Palestinian controlled "Areas A" (consisting of approximately 17.2% of the West Bank). The wall, the fences and the new restrictions of movement imposed on Arabs mean Palestinians will effectively be caged into 13 separate Israeli-created ghettos.

The concept of a wall to keep people in or out is an age-old practice among totalitarian governments and regimes. In the Middle Ages, undesirable groups were confined to ghettos in European cities, making their presence in areas outside their specified quarters illegal and punishable by law. Outlaws were similarly caged in by barbed wire walls and fences as were native peoples of lands conquered by Europeans in the "colonies", particularly the United States and Australia.

And this will not be...

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