DEFINITIONS: Separation Wall/Apartheid Wall

A view of an agricultural gate in the separation fence near Falamya village (Gate number 914), West Bank, May 17, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz /

A view of an agricultural gate in the separation fence near Falamya village (Gate number 914), West Bank, May 17, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz /

from HaMoked, Israeli Center for the Defense of the Individual

The separation wall being built in the West Bank has created enormous changes in surrounding areas. The wall penetrates deeply into occupied territory, creating land enclaves and imprisoning Palestinians in land space cut off from the State of Israel and, at the same time, isolated from the rest of the Occupied Territories. The wall tramples on the property rights of Palestinians living near it. The construction of the wall entails the seizure of vast amounts of land, and the destruction of plantations, groves, and fields. The living conditions of Palestinians who reside near the wall have become intolerable: many Palestinians residing east of the wall are unable to reach and cultivate their farmland, and Palestinians living west of the wall have trouble reaching West Bank cities, schools, medical centers and treatment, commercial centers, and their relatives, because of the limited hours in which the gates of the wall are open and the need for special permits. The wall thus infringes the residents’ fundamental rights to movement, to gain a living, to education, health, and to a minimal degree of dignity.

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In the space between the wall and the Green Line, Israel operates a regime that discriminates between Jews and Palestinians. The military commander’s declaration of land as a military area and its accompanying orders close the seam area to Palestinians, whose families have lived in the area for hundreds of years. Jews, on the other hand, even if they are not Israeli citizens, are free to move about without limitation. The result is an apartheid regime that distinguishes between residents based on their ethnic background. Making a distinction on ethnic grounds is a crime under international law. For a detailed description of this regime, see HaMoked’s petition in HCJ 9961/03, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual v. The Government of Israel et al.

The wall has generated numerous petitions to the High Court of Justice. Some of the petitions request the court to order the state to dismantle the wall in certain areas in which residents’ rights have been violated, other petitions oppose the arbitrary policy in opening the gates in the wall, and some petitions contend that construction of the wall in occupied territory is illegal and demand that the permit regime instituted by Israel be cancelled, which was the substance of HaMoked’s petition.

On 30 June 2004, the High Court of Justice voided about thirty kilometers along the route of the wall northwest of Jerusalem. The court held that the route in that area disproportionately violated the rights of the residents of villages along the route, and that the harm could be significantly diminished by choosing an alternate route. (See HaMoked’s Website for the petition and the HCJ’s judgment.) Following the court’s decision, the wall’s route was reconsidered by the state, and the HCJ issued temporary injunctions in some petitions, preventing construction on other sections of the wall.

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“Tear down that wall”

On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, published its advisory opinion on the wall. It held that construction of the wall, and the regime that Israel instituted to accompany it, violate international law, and that Israel must tear it down and compensate the Palestinians who suffered loss as a result of its construction.

Completely ignoring the ICJ’s advisory opinion, and despite delays in construction resulting from petitions to the HCJ, the wall is still being built, and with it the de facto annexation of areas into the State of Israel and the gross violations of the residents’ rights continue.

CASE STUDY: The Disappearing Plot of Land: the state issued an entry permit to "the Seam Zone" to a Palestinian to tend his lands, after insisting for two years that his plot is not there

In March 2016, a Palestinian resident of the village Qaffin submitted a request for an entry permit to the Seam Zone for agricultural purposes, in order to cultivate land owned by his family for generations. The man, who had previously received a number of permits for the very same plot, received no response to his request for several months. He was finally issued a permit valid for two weeks only – a timeframe that does not enable ongoing cultivation of the land. As such, on December 29, 2016, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) on the man's behalf, demanding that he be issued an entry permit to the Seam Zone for the maximum amount of time possible, and that the state be obligated to comply with the timeframe set in its own procedures, and respond to requests for permits on time. 

In its response from June 8, 2017, the state suddenly claimed that the man's family's lands are not located in the Seam Zone at all. This, despite the fact that the state had previously recognized the man's, and his family's, ties to the very same land, and over the years issued no less than 12 permits to him and his father for the purpose of cultivating it. The state based its new position on a tour conducted in the area of the plot, claiming the name of the plot the man indicated he owns, which is referred to by the military as "al-Wakr", differs from the name as it appears in the deed of ownership and the inheritance order presented by the man, which refers to a plot by the name of "al-Morady". 

On October 15, 2017, HaMoked submitted a response, claiming that the map of the area, which was relayed to it by the Qaffin municipality, clearly shows a plot by the name of "al-Morady", which is in fact a sub-plot of the "al-Wakr" plot. HaMoked further claimed that the inheritance order issued to the man's father, which refers to the "al-Morady" plot as located in the lands of the village Qaffin, was issued by the Israeli military itself. The military issued permits for the Seam Zone to the man and his family for years based on this document. HaMoked claimed that the state's new position, according to which it does not recognize a plot by the name of "al-Morady" in the Seam Zone, is contradictory to its previous position, and puts the burden of proof on the man to prove that the plot is in fact where it is. 

On February 11, 2018, two years since the man submitted his permit request, the state provided a response, according to which "without conducting a comprehensive mapping of the al-Wakr plot […] it cannot be definitively stated that there is no sub-plot by the name of al-Morady within the al Wakr plot". As such, the state decided to issue the man a permit, valid for six months, and simultaneously stated that it reserves the right to cancel his permit or refuse his future requests for new permits, should any new information arise indicating there is no sub-plot by the name of "al-Morady" in the area. In an additional response from July 29, 2018, the State committed to summon the man for a hearing before deciding to revoke any permits issued to him, and announced he would maintain a right to appeal any decisions to revoke his permit. In addition, the state announced it would positively consider approving future requests submitted by the man, if no new information regarding his lands arises. As such, the petition was withdrawn, and the man was able to access and cultivate his lands. 

In this case, the military posed absurd demands of a Palestinian whose sole wish was to access his own lands. A man who had proven his ties to a plot in the Seam Zone for years, was suddenly demanded to prove that his lands are the same lands that appear in maps of the area and in his inheritance order. All the while, for two whole years, the man was denied access to his lands, leaving them completely neglected.