July 23, 2003 - Embassy of Israel
The Security Fence Area
Since September 2000, the citizens of Israel
have been subjected to an onslaught of Palestinian terrorism,
in which over 850 Israelis have been murdered and thousands
have been maimed, wounded or emotionally scarred for life. These
terrorist atrocities, aimed primarily at civilians, have included
suicide bombings, car-bombs, gun shootings, and grenade attacks
on shopping centers, discotheques, commuter buses, pedestrian
malls, and other crowded areas in the heart of Israel's cities.
Most of these attacks have emanated from the areas of the West
Bank, have been under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority
(PA) since 1995.
While obligated by the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo
Accords to prevent terrorism, arrest terrorists, and cease anti-Israeli
incitement, the PA has done little to carry out its responsibilities
to end the violence. Indeed, the PA has actively promoted terrorism
and even financed terrorist operations, while PA officials have
participated and even directed many attacks.
In light of the current situation, and given
the obligation of all governments to protect the lives of
their citizens, the Government of Israel has been searching
for ways to protect the lives of its citizens, and to prevent
the infiltration of terrorists from the West Bank into Israeli
cities. One of these solutions is the Security Fence Area.
A Defensive Measure
The Security Fence Area, currently being established between
the West Bank and Israel's population centers, is a central
component of Israel's response to the present wave of Palestinian
terrorism. The Israeli Government's decision of June 23, 2002
states that the sole purpose of the Security Fence Area is to
provide security. It is a defensive measure designed to block
the passage of terrorists, weapons, and explosives into the
State of Israel. The Security Fence Area--a strip about 4050
meters wide--will extend from Beit She'an in northern Israel
to Arad in the south. At its center runs a technologically advanced
intrusion detection fence, which is designed to warn against
crossings, in addition to a "sterile" dirt tracking
path on the western side and an asphalt path for vehicles on
both sides. Observation systems supply additional warning, while
military and border police personnel will patrol along its length
to counter any unauthorized attempt to cross into Israel. In
contrast to pictures appearing in the international media of
a tall, concrete wall, the vast majority of the fence (approximately
94%) consists of chain links.
A similar security fence already exists in Gaza,
in accordance with the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (1994) between
Israel and the PLO. It, too, is designed to significantly limit
the ability of terrorists to cross into Israel, and has consistently
proven its ability to successfully fulfill this function.
The Security Fence is a measure taken to save
lives, not to annex territory. Israel is entitled to employ
a variety of measures in order to prevent and deter potential
terrorists from carrying out their attacks. The Security Fence
is one of these preventive measures. The decision to establish
the Security Fence Area was taken only after other options were
tried which did not succeed to stop the Palestinian terrorism,
which presents an imminent threat to the lives of Israel's citizens.
It is important to note that the Security Fence
Area does not annex territories to the State of Israel. It does
not change the status of these territories, their ownership,
or the status of the residents of these areas. The Security
Fence Area does not attempt to mark in any way any future border.
Since the Palestinian-initiated violence began
in September 2000, an armed conflict has existed in the region.
Under international humanitarian law, Israel has the authority
to seize private land. The authority also exists to seize property,
in accordance with the laws of armed combat, in situations when
the military aim is to protect the lives of both the citizens
of the State of Israel and the Palestinian residents of the
In addition to its efforts to ensure the security
of its citizens, Israel attaches considerable importance to
the interests of the local Palestinian residents. In particular,
it has made substantial efforts to ensure the continuous flow
of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population, both during
and after construction of the Security Fence Area. As such,
Israel recognizes the necessity of finding an appropriate balance
between the imperative need to respond to terrorism and the
humanitarian interests of the local residents.
Although the topographical path of the Security
Fence Area was dictated primarily by security needs, humanitarian
concerns also played a crucial role. When deciding the route,
Israel tried to avoid including Palestinian villages on the
western side of the Security Fence Area. No particular preference
was given to using land in the West Bank itself, and indeed,
in certain sections, the Security Fence is being built within
Israel's pre-1967 lines. The use of public lands is also a priority,
in order to avoid the requisition of private lands.
Regarding agriculture, the Security Fence was
located, to the greatest possible degree, on unused land, and
every attempt is made to avoid separating owners from their
property. In circumstances where such separation is unavoidable,
special agricultural gates are being built, allowing farmers
access to fields. Other steps have also been established, such
as the replanting of trees and special authorization for farmers
and agricultural workers to cross to the western side of the
Security Fence. The goal is to minimize damage to individuals
and disruption of daily life.
It should also be recalled that, while it is
not always possible to avoid negatively affecting the interests
of the residents, owners of seized property are offered full
compensation, in accordance with the law, for the use of their
The Palestinian claim that the Security Fence
Area was established as a deliberate attempt to limit their
rights is totally baseless. Israel has made every effort to
ensure that the Security Fence Area causes as little disruption
to daily life as possible, given the security situation.
Moreover, this claim endeavors to blame Israel,
the victim of terrorism, for taking a purely defensive measure
while ignoring the profound threat to human life posed by the
Palestinian terrorism that emanates from the West Bank. 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 was its only motivation for establishing the Security
What is the reason for establishing the Security
The Security Fence Area is being built with
the sole purpose of providing security for Israeli citizens
who, since September 2000, have been subjected to an continuous
onslaught of Palestinian terrorism. The fact that over 850 men,
women, and children have been killed in horrific suicide bombings
and other terror attacks emanating from Palestinian territory
clearly justifies the decision to place a physical barrier in
the path of terrorists. The Security Fence is a measure taken
to save lives, not to annex territory.
How was the path of the Security Fence Area
The path of the Security Fence has been planned
in accordance with both security, topographical, and humanitarian
considerations. It does not annex any land to Israel nor does
it establish any borders.
Why has the route been adjusted in several
In addition to security considerations, Israel
has made every attempt to plan the route so as to avoid creating
undue hardship to the local population. For example, changes
have been made pursuant to negotiations with landowners, in
order to take their particular needs into account.
In certain areas, archeological sites such as
the ancient city in Shuweika were discovered, and the route
was changed to prevent damage to these historical areas.
What is the legal status of the land?
The land used in building the Security Fence
Area is requisitioned for military purposes, not confiscated,
and it remains the property of the owner. Legal procedures are
already in place to allow every owner to file an objection to
the use of their land. Moreover, property owners are offered
compensation for the use of their land and for any damage to
their trees. Israel is making every effort to provide the local
population and landowners with individual solutions to any difficulties
caused by the Security Fence.
What is the status of Palestinians who reside
between the Security Fence Area and the pre-1967 line?
Only a small number of Palestinian villages
will be included on the western side of the Security Fence.
Their residents will not have to relocate and their legal status
will remain unchanged.
Will it be possible to cross the Security
Yes - The function of the Security Fence Area
is to provide security, not seal off the West Bank Consequently,
Israel is establishing gates to allow passage for persons and
vehicles across the Security Fence Area.
Special arrangements have also been made for
Palestinian farmers separated from their lands. Special agricultural
gates along the Security Fence will enable Palestinian farmers
and their workers to cross from one side to another.
What will happen to olive trees and other
Farmers who cultivate olive and other fruit
trees growing within the Security Fence Area can designate a
new site to which the trees will be relocated. The farmers can
also receive compensation.
The Ministry of Defense contractors building
the Security Fence are responsible for carefully uprooting and
replanting the trees. So far, over 40,000 olive trees have been
relocated in accordance with this procedure.