A Palestinian youth rides his bicycle next to Israel’s separation wall on the outskirts of Jerusalem (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli/File)
A group of Palestinian youths reprtedly managed to bring down an iron gate that was set up by Israeli forces as part of Israelâ€™s illegal separation wall, running through the village of Anata, in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem.
Spokesperson of the Fateh movement, in the nearby Shu’fat refugee camp of occupied East Jerusalem, Thaer Fasfous, told Maâ€™an News Agency that several youth used hand tools to bring down the gate on Friday, as an act of protest against the wall.
Fasfous pointed out that the gate is located in the middle of the wall that runs through Anata, and separates it from the nearby illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev.
He said that, as the youth were taking down the gate, an Israeli army patrol raided the village, sparking clashes between soldiers and youth, upon which Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets at locals.
Dozens suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation while one youth was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Israelâ€™s separation wall, expected to reach 708 kilometers upon its completion — 88 percent of which is planned inside occupied Palestinian territory — is a common sight in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli-installed cement walls and barrier fences zig zag throughout the landscape.
Israeli leaders often claim that the wall serves a security purpose to deter potential Palestinian attacks on Israelis. However, many activists, academics, and analysts have said that the wall is instead a massive â€śland grabâ€ť of large tracts of the Palestinian territory, and a strategy to consolidate Israelâ€™s sovereignty over Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control — where all of Israelâ€™s illegal settlements are built or are in the process of being constructed.
Area C of the West Bank was expected to be gradually transferred to the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to the Oslo peace agreements of the 1990s. However, decades later Israel still maintains full civil and military control over the area.
Israel began building the wall with concrete slabs, fences, and barbed-wire inside the occupied West Bank in 2002 at the height of the Second Intifada, claiming it was crucial for security.
The ICJ issued an advisory opinion in 2004, stating that the wall was illegal under international law and that its construction must stop immediately, adding that reparations should be paid to Palestinians whose properties were damaged as a result of the construction.
However, the wallâ€™s construction has continued unabated, encroaching deep into the Palestinian territory, and leaving Palestinian neighborhoods stranded on both sides of the barrier, and isolating communities from their agricultural lands.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.