Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Israeli separation barrier is cutting off Palestinians from their livelihood

The Independent

"A British government-funded report says the route of Israel's separation barrier is trapping 250,000 Palestinians in enclaves designed to protect Jewish settlers in the occupied territory.

It says that creation of the enclaves cutting Palestinian communities off from the rest of the West Bank "almost totally ignores the daily needs of the Palestinian population" and is "focused almost exclusively on the desire to maintain the fabric of life of Israeli settlers".

The critical report ­ which says the existence of some Palestinian communities is threatened by the barrier ­ was produced by the Israeli planning and rights organisation Bimkom. The research was jointly funded by the New Israel Fund and the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.

It says the barrier is cutting employment for Palestinians and isolating farmers from markets, causing "particularly serious damage" to residents' health-care needs and undermining social and family life.

The report focuses on two categories of cut-off communities in the West Bank. The first are "seam enclaves" between the barrier, broadly to the east, and the 1967 Green Line, to the west. It comprises around 8,000 residents whose movements into the rest of the West Bank, where 2.5 million Palestinians live, are heavily restricted by checkpoints. Pointing out that residents in such enclaves require a military permit, the report says " Palestinians whose families have lived there for centuries must now acquire permits, without which their mere presence in their villages constitutes an offence."

The second ­ and larger ­ category are "internal enclaves" which are bound in, sometimes virtually encircled, by the barrier and roads forbidden to Palestinians to protect "fingers" of occupied territory inhabited by Jewish settlers and to ensure the settlers' access to Israel proper.

The report cites the example of the Bir Nabala enclave in which residents of five villages traditionally linked to Jerusalemwill have only two ways out, through tunnels, to Ramallah or the area of the West Bank village of Biddu.

The report also says, despite a series of Supreme Court decisions in favour of rerouting the barrier, "there has been no meaningful change in the system of considerations guiding the planners"......"

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