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July 23, 2003 - Embassy of Israel
The Security Fence Area

I. Background

  1. Introduction
    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Legal Aspects
    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 West Bank.

  4. Humanitarian Aspects
    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 land.

  5. Conclusion
    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 Fence Area.

II. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the reason for establishing the Security Fence Area?
    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.

  2. How was the path of the Security Fence Area determined?
    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.

  3. Why has the route been adjusted in several places?
    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Will it be possible to cross the Security Fence Area?
    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.

  7. What will happen to olive trees and other fruit trees?
    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.

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