|Independent Media Center, Israel |
Impact of the First Phase of the Security Barrier on the Qalqiliya, TulkarmWednesday 20 Aug 2003
In June 2002, the Israeli authorities began construction of the first phase
of a 350-kilometre ‘security barrier’ to physically separate the West Bank
from Israel. This phase - from Zbuba in the north west corner of Jenin
governorate, through the Tulkarm district, to Elkana settlement in the
southern Qalqiliya governorate - will extend some 140 kilometres in length
The cost is estimated at NIS 10 million per kilometre and is expected to be
completed by July 2003.(1) The Government of Israel maintains that barrier is not intended to mark a political border but to prevent Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. However, at no stage does the barrier follow a
course on the Israeli side of the Green Line: on the contrary, it deviates
many kilometres into West Bank territory, up to six kilometres in the case of Jayous. When complete, some 160,000 dunums (one dunum is equivalent to one quarter of an acre) of fertile farmland will be isolated on the Israeli
side of the barrier, 2.9 percent of the land area of the West Bank.(2)
The three northern governorates affected have a 2003 estimated combined
population of about 500,000 - representing about 25 percent of the West Bank population. Qalqiliya is home to 90,000, Tulkarm 163,000 and Jenin, 247,000.
Population figures for the main towns are Qalqiliya, 41,000; Tulkarm,
43,000; Jenin, 34,000.(3) In total, nearly 70 towns, villages, hamlets and
refugee camps in the three governorates - over 200,000 Palestinians - will be impacted to some degree in the barrier’s first phase. (4)
UNRWA carried out field visits to examine the effects of the barrier on the livelihoods of local residents, with special emphasis on registered
refugees. Most of the northern Green Line towns and villages accommodate
refugee families. Certain villages, in particular - Atil, Baqa esh-Sharqiya,
Barta’a esh-Sharqiya, Taibeh, Rumana and Zububa - contain significant, even
majority, refugee populations.(5) Qalqiliya town, contains 4,000 refugee
families, the UNRWA hospital and other facilities, and will be hermetically
Tulkarm town (3,700 refugee families) will have a wall constructed on its
western side and a ‘depth barrier’ to its east which will seal in most of
the town’s immediate hinterland, including Tulkarm camp (15,600 registered refugees) and Nur Shams (8,000 refugees).
In the north west Jenin district, Rumana, Khirbet Taibe and Anin villages
all have large numbers of refugee families and include an UNRWA school;
another ‘depth barrier’ will isolate this enclave. Although refugees will
not necessarily suffer more than the general population from the effects of
the barrier, the resultant decline in living standards will increase
humanitarian needs and inevitably add to the Agency’s already over-burdened
Izbat Jal’ud, Qalqiliya
The inhabitants of Jal’ud (also known as Sheikh Ahmed) are refugees from the
village of Zakur, whose remains lie just across the Green Line. Some six
families, about 36 persons are registered refugees, out of a total
population of 100. The barrier will cut off 250-300 dunums in the village as
a whole, despite the owners possessing Ottoman and British title deeds. In
addition, there is a demolition order for three homes and a mosque erected
without a permit: no building permit has been issued in the village since
Abdallah Said Jal’ud, an UNRWA-registered refugee, will lose approximately 125 dunums in Jal’ud and possibly more land in Hable and Izbat Salman once the course of the barrier there is clear. Various fruits and vegetables, an apple farm and a water reservoir are affected. Access to the land is forbidden while work on the barrier is in progress and there is no
indication as to how access will be granted once construction is complete.
The barrier, ‘depth barrier’ and enclaves
The barrier will be some seventy metres wide on average but will extend up
to 100 metres in some areas. It is commonly referred to as a ‘wall’ but for
most of its path the barrier comprises a number of different obstacles and
At its most extensive, it will consist of an electronic ‘smart fence’ in the
centre to warn of any attempt to cross; on the eastern side of this fence, a
trench, ditch or other obstacle to act as a barrier against vehicles;
another fence for delay purposes; a paved service road next to this delay
fence. West of the ‘smart fence’ are a number of paths: a trace path to
disclose the footprints of anyone crossing; a two-lane patrol road; a road
for armoured vehicles and another fence. (6)
The barrier will also include watchtowers and entry gates at various
intervals and an exclusion zone of undetermined length. On those sections
which for topographic reasons the barrier will be less than 70 metres wide, only some of the components that support the electronic fence will be
constructed. In various areas, locals have been informed that a ‘no go’ or
buffer zone of undefined extent on the ‘Palestinian’ side of the barrier
will also be imposed, although there is no official confirmation of this.
In areas containing large Palestinian communities close to the Green Line
where the path of the barrier will follow the 1948 borders, the Israeli
authorities will erect an additional ‘Depth Barrier’ a few kilometres east of the main Barrier. ‘This is a barrier without a fence, whose objective is to channel movement in those areas to a number of security monitoring points.’(7)
Although no official map showing the course of the barrier has been
authorised by the Israeli authorities, the Tulkarm District Coordination
Liaison (DCL) office of the IDF confirmed that such a trench will surround Tulkarm town, extending eastwards to include Nur Shams camp.(8) (See Part 2,Tulkarm section and Map 3). A similar ‘deep trench’ will be constructed in the north west Jenin district, running from Salem to Araqa villages, to include Rumana, Khirbet Taibe, and Anin. (See Part 2, Jenin section and Map 4). Both areas will become enclaves, isolated between a barrier on the Green Line and a trench to the east.
Only the land directly under the course of the barrier has been formally
confiscated; ownership of land behind the barrier remains in the hands of
the owners, to which the Government of Israel has promised continued
access.(9) According to the Israeli State Attorney’s Office, five main
crossing points and 26 ‘agricultural crossings’ will be established along
the length of the barrier;(10) however, it appears that in the 2003 budget
insufficient funds were allocated to erect the main crossing points.(11)
No official notice has been issued concerning the workings of these crossing points nor the criteria for obtaining permits. Officials in the Tulkarm DCL confirmed that farmers would be given permits for access through the nine gates in the Tulkarm governorate, ‘two or three times a day’ and that one of these planned crossing points would be at Qafin. However, according to the mayor of Qafin, there are no openings in the completed concrete part of the barrier for a crossing point in the Qafin area.(12) There are unconfirmed reports from Palestinian newspapers that pedestrians and vehicles will be charged for crossing.
In the majority of cases, the first indication to local farmers that their
land will be requisitioned is when plans and maps are dropped on their land
or posted on trees: the local municipality or village council is rarely officially notified. This is often followed by a notification that the DCL will make a tour of the affected areas to meet with the landowners (see inset box, Part 2, Jenin section).
The legal instrument chosen to achieve confiscation is the issuing of
‘requisition for military needs’ orders, signed by the Military Commander, Central Command, Moshe Kapilinsky. Most of these orders are in effect until the end of 2005; however, they may legally be extended indefinitely.
Furthermore, although some farmers have appealed the requisition orders -
either individually or collectively through the municipality or local
council- none of these hearings has resulted in a reversal of the
requisition order. (13)
Owners of requisitioned land are entitled to claim compensation but few have done so, because they believe it would be seen to legitimise the
confiscation. Furthermore, the amounts offered are well below the real value
of the land: in Qalqiliya the amount offered was only 10 percent of the
In the most severe cases, entire localities will be consigned to a no man’s land between the barrier and the Green Line. It is unclear what arrangements will be made to grant these residents - fifteen communities, with some 13,500 residents in the northern governates alone(15) - access to the rest of the West Bank. Three of these communities have urban links with sister villages within Israel from which they were separated in 1948. Although these will now be ‘reunited’ on the Western side of the barrier there is no provision to grant residents special permits to enter Israel. On the contrary, the area between the barrier and the Green line will be declared a Closed Military Zone, although, according to the State Attorney’s Office, this designation will not apply to residents of this undefined zone.(16)
The Israeli Civil Administration has stated that permanent crossing permits
will be issued to residents of these enclaves but those outside will not be
able to enter unless they apply for a special permit.(17) The Israeli human
rights organisation B’Tselem fears that these enclaves will suffer a similar
fate to Al-Mwasi area of the Gaza Strip, where special permits are needed
for the residents to exit, searches and long delays are common, the sole
checkpoint is only open for certain periods and is often closed without
Impacts: Land, Jobs, Water,
Health and Education
Prior to the current intifada, the northern Green Line towns and villages
fared relatively well economically compared to other West Bank localities,
due to easy access to the Israeli labour and consumer markets and because
large numbers of Israelis, especially Israeli Arabs, visited Qalqiliya and
Tulkarm. Access to the Israel labour market has virtually disappeared in the
last two years and Israeli citizens are forbidden to enter ‘A’ areas under
Palestinian Authority control.(19)
The barrier will seal the end of Palestinian migrant labour in Israel while also isolating affected communities from each other, compounding acute
unemployment and poverty levels. In Baqa esh-Sharqiya, which will soon be
isolated between the barrier and the Green line, there are some 420
commercial enterprises but the owners of 250 of these live outside the town,
east of the barrier.(20) In Nabi Elias, 15 merchants and their families
moved from nearby Qalqiliya town because of movement restrictions through
the town’s sole access point.(21) Both town and village will soon be
reunited, surrounded on three sides by the barrier, but there will be only
one access point for both through a gate several kilometres east of Nabi
By severing thousands of dunums of some of the West Bank’s best land and
water resources the barrier will have grave implications for agricultural
productivity. The northern governorates have a disproportionately large
share of the West Bank’s agricultural and water resources, accounting for 80
percent of wells. Employment in these two activities is also
disproportionately high, with the northern governorates accounting for 42
percent of West Bank agricultural and 53 percent of water-sector
The importance of agriculture has grown during the intifada, acting as ‘a
shock absorber’ for many newly unemployed. In Jayous, 400 out of 550
families are now totally dependent on agriculture, up from 250 before the
intifada. In Qalqiliya town, 22 percent of the city’s pre-intifada economy
was based on agricultural produce: this number has risen to 45 percent with
2,000 agricultural workers supporting approximately 15,000 residents.
Agriculture is dominated by small, family-based farms that depend on
high-intensive family labour at specific times, especially during the olive harvest. It is unclear how these traditional ways can be adapted to the
proposal by the Israeli authorities to issue permits which will limit the
number and times which farmers can use the agricultural crossing points.
The first phase of the barrier has already resulted in the confiscation and
razing of 10,000 dunums of privately-owned land, the uprooting of over
80,000 trees, the destruction of 35 kilometres of water pipes and the
demolition of dozens of greenhouses.(23) Because of its position atop the
western groundwater basin the barrier will also have a severe impact on
water access, use and allocation, with a number of the villages concerned
losing their only source of water.(24)
The Palestine Hydrology Group has listed 30 wells in the Qalqiliya and
Tulkarm districts which will be lost in the first phase of construction.
Qalqiliya town will lose nineteen wells, representing approximately 30
percent of the city’s water supply. In comparison, according to the
Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, only five of 52 locations
targeted in the first phase of construction are connected to the Israeli national water network.(25) Households in some 300 localities across the West Bank store rain and spring water in cistern in the wet winter months and buy from water tankers in summer. Movement restrictions have already led
to an 80 percent rise in the cost of trucked water since the start of the
In addition to undermining business and family ties, the barrier will also
imperil health and educational services. Nine of the 15 communities in the enclaves west of the barrier lack a medical facility entirely.(27) Many
other affected localities provide basic preventive and primary services, but
rely on the three main cities for specialised and emergency care, and for
regular dialysis and chemotherapy treatments.
Regular preventive services are already undermined by existing mobility
restrictions: UNRWA reports a 52 percent decrease in women attending
post-natal care. Prior to the intifada, 95 percent of women gave birth in
hospitals. This has fallen to 50 percent in some areas, and there are at
least 39 documented cases of women giving birth at checkpoints.(28)
Medical personnel also face difficulties in reaching their workplaces. In Qafin, the most northerly locality in the Tulkarm district, health workers from Tulkarm reach the clinic late and leave early because of delays at checkpoints. The barrier will only compound these and other problems, interrupting routine immunisation programmes, delaying mobile clinics, ambulances and the distribution of medical supplies and vaccines. It will also increase the strain on public health providers by further dispersing facilities, staff and resources and adding to the burden and cost to village health centres.
The barrier will also have a harmful effect on education, again by
compounding existing difficulties caused by movement restrictions. As with
health providers, teachers already face problems in reaching their work
places and many have had to be reassigned to schools near their homes.
Across the three governorates, an estimated 7,400 students will be directly affected by the barrier.(29) Dab’a, which will be completely encircled, has a school only to the grade 7; for grades 8-10 pupils must travel to Ras Atiya and for grades 11-12 to Hable; tertiary education in available colleges in Qalqiliya or Nablus, and trips to the latter can take up to six hours. Educational facilities and services will be especially affected in Azun Atme and Ras Atiya.
Ras Atiya, Qalqiliya
In Ras Atiya (pop. 1,400) villagers worked in Israel prior to the intifada,
but are now very dependent on local agriculture. Some 1,400 dunums are being
lost to the barrier itself and 9,000 dunums will be isolated, 75 percent of
the villagers’ lands, affecting some 220 families. The barrier will pass
within 10 metres to the north and east of the local school, a coeducational
institution of 450 students, constructed through Swiss funding. Requests to move the barrier to a more reasonable 100 metre distance were refused on ‘security grounds’. Teaching has been disrupted because of explosives used in blasting rocks, and the dynamiting caused cracks to appear in the outer wall. Sixty pupils and 20 out of 25 teachers are from outside Ras Atiya and the barrier, which will cut the road to Dab’a and isolate nearby khirbets Tira, will make access difficult for all concerned.
The greatest change in the
landscape since 1967
The hardship brought by the security barrier will affect an already
impoverished population. Many affected communities lost land in 1948 -
including many not formally registered as refugees - and many localities
have been steadily losing additional territory to settlements over the last
The Oslo Accords provided little protection in this regard: most West Bank residents live in Areas ‘A’ or ‘B’ under Palestinian Authority
administrative jurisdiction although most available building land lies on
the edges of towns and villages in Area ‘C’ - currently some 60 percent of
West Bank land. Permission to build requires Israeli authorisation. Between
1996 and 1999 only seventy nine such permits were granted, leaving residents
no choice but to build ‘illegally’. (30)
Recent months have seen a surge of demolitions and demolition orders served
upon ‘illegal’ buildings along the path of the barrier. The barrier will
isolate predominantly Area ‘C’ land, and further diminish natural expansion
for many communities, leaving young homebuilders no alternative but to
leave. There is already evidence of internal migration from some affected
areas. Some 6-8,000 residents have left Qalqiliya town since the beginning
of the intifada.(31)
Zbuba in the Jenin district has a population of 2,000 and 240 of its 280
families are registered refugees. Under the terms of the 1949 Rhodes
Agreement, the village lost some 18,000 dunums across the Green Line. An
additional 2,000 dunums was lost in 1959 and 26 dunums was confiscated in
1999 to construct the Salem DCL and military base. That same year,
thirty-three dunums was also confiscated to build a trench, one and a half metres wide and two metres deep along the Green Line.
In December 2002, documents and maps were strewn about on village land
disclosing that some 250 dunums of village land would be confiscated, some
50 to 80 metres on the Zbuba side of the Green Line. Nothing official was
conveyed to the village council. A letter was also dropped on the ground
saying that the landowners could apply for compensation and should send a
fax to the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, with relevant details of title
deeds for possible compensation. The villagers subsequently rejected this.
The DCL called a meeting for affected landowners on 18 February, when it was
explained that the confiscation order was from a ‘high level’ and could not
be altered. On 10 March the bulldozers arrived to begin levelling land and
Despite Israeli assurance of gate passes most of those interviewed appear
resigned to losing effective access to their land once the barrier is
complete, given their experience of the existing permit system.
In the long run, most worry that the Israeli authorities will justify
confiscation on the pretext of under-use, in particular using a provision of
Ottoman law, in which if an owner of miri land - those situated close to
places of settlement and suitable for agricultural use - fails to farm the
land for three consecutive years, the land reverts to the State. (32)
In most areas, security personnel and Border Police are already preventing
local farmers from crossing or approaching the route of the barrier,
although no Closed Military Zone order has been issued. Many farmers
interviewed visit their lands only on Saturdays when the bulldozers and
security personnel are absent. Others have dismantled green houses or ceased
cultivating their land.(33) Parallel with the fragmentation of land and
economy comes feelings of being besieged and disempowered, of no longer
having any real control over one's destiny: ‘we feel like refugees on our
land,’ the mayor of Qafin declared.
The family of Rathab Ali Awad Said Dameiri, UNRWA refugee, originally came
from al Aqdera, just over the Green Line. Mr. Dameiri has been renting some
22 dunums of land for 15 years which he can now only access on foot. He is
therefore trying to re-establish what he can of his greenhouses and crops on
25 dunums he has now rented on the ‘Palestinian’ side of the barrier. Mr. Dameiri claims that although he is allowed to visit his land on foot he is
forbidden to cultivate anything. Nevertheless, he goes on Saturday when the contractors and IDF are absent. Mr. Dameiri has not been informed of access
arrangements for after the barrier is built.
The Yesha Council of Settlements, the body which represents Jewish settlers
in the occupied Palestinian territory, has proposed an alternative route for
the security barrier which would leave dozens of settlements and more than
100,000 Palestinians on the western side of the barrier. Pressure from
settlement heads has already altered the original route of the Barrier in
the Tulkarm and Qalqiliya districts with the result that Salit, Avnei Hefez
and Alfei Menashe settlements now lie west of the Barrier.(34)
The Defence Ministry has seemingly adopted many of the Yesha’s suggestions
and recently made recommendations which would extend the barrier far
eastwards into the Qalqiliya governorate, bringing the major settlements of Kedumim, Karnei Shomron, Immanuel and Ariel inside the Barrier, encompassing some 40,000 settlers and 3,000 Palestinians.(35)
It is now reported that an eastern barrier is also planned down the Jordan
valley from Mekhola in the north east to Ma’ale Adumim near Jerusalem, and
then south to the Judean Desert. Whatever the final boundaries of the
barrier it will effectively place much of West Bank land out of bounds for
Palestinians and constitute the greatest change in the landscape since 1967.
Part 2: Impact of Barrier by governate.
Part 3: Table of data on 28 affected communities.
B’Tselem: The Separation Barrier: Position Paper, (Draft copy), March 2003,
B’Tselem, The Separation Barrier: Position Paper, March 2003, p.8.
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Projected population,
Selected Years, Medium Series 2003.
The World Bank defines ‘impacted communities’ as ‘those that: (a) find
themselves on the western (interior) side of the Wall; (b) lose land or
infrastructure to its construction; (c) are located less than 1.3 km. From
the Wall; or (d)have a main/only access road cut by the Wall. It should be
noted that this term is used only as a rough guide and may underestimate the
total impact of the Wall on neighbouring communities.’ The Impact of the
West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West Bank Communities, (Draft
copy), p. 22. B’Tselem comes up with a similar figure regarding affected
communities and population: ‘the barrier will likely cause direct harm to at
least 210,00 Palestinians residing in sixty-seven villages, towns cities.’
The Separation Barrier: Position Paper, (Draft), March 2003, p.3.v
According to the World Bank, some 25-30 percent of the population in
affected communities are registered refugees, although it is not clear how
this figure is determined, which appears to be an overestimate. World Bank,
The Impact of the West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West Bank
Communities, p. 25.
B’Tselem, Separation Barrier: Update, October 2002.
B’Tselem, Separation Barrier: Update. The quotation is from the response of
the Israeli State Attorney’s Office to a petition filed in the High Court of
Justice by Palestinians against the proposed route of the Barrier. However,
according to B’Tselem’s latest position paper, p.7, the depth barrier will
in fact have a barbed-wire fence alongside it.
Meeting with Lieutenant-Colonel Khalil, Tulkarm DCL, 19 March 2003.
According to the State Attorney’s Office, ‘Reasonable crossing arrangements
will be made that will take into account the need for the movement of
labourers and suitable work implements. On the one hand, and the ability to
transport the produce from the farmland to villages lying east of the
barrier, on the other hand.’ B’Tselem, The Separation Barrier: Update
B’Tselem, The Separation Barrier: Update
B’Tselem, Separation Barrier: Position Paper, (draft) March 2003, p.13.
Interview, with mayor, Mr. Tayseer Harashi, 12 March.
‘Past experience …. Indicate(s) that presenting objections to the IDF is
nothing more than a formality which, in most cases, has no effects on
decisions that have already been made’ B’Tselem: The Separation Barrier:
Position Paper, September 2002, p. 13.
Interview with mayor of Qalqiliya, Mr. Marouf Zahran, 1 March 2003.
World Bank: The Impact of the West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West
Bank Communities, p.2
B’Tselem, The Separation Barrier: Update.
B’Tselem: The Separation Barrier: Position Paper, March 2003, p.12.
B’Tselem: The Separation Barrier: Position Paper, March 2003, p.7.
Some 4,000 residents of Qalqiliya possess Israeli IDs through marriage and
other family connections but are now officially prohibited from residing in
Interview with mayor, 6 March 2003.
World Bank, The Impact of the West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West
Bank Communities, p.27.
World Bank: The Impact of the West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West
Bank Communities, p.13.
PENGON, February Update. PENGON is the Palestinian Environmental NGO
network, which includes the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee
(PARC), Land and Water (LAW) and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief
PENGON: The Apartheid Wall Campaign, Report # 1, November 2002, p.21.
PARC: Needs Assessment Study & Proposed Intervention for villages affected
by the Wall in the districts of Jenin, Tulkarem and Qalqilia, February 2003,
Oxfam: Forgotten Villages: Struggling to survive under closure in the West
Bank, September 2002, p. 26.
B’Tselem: The Separation Barrier: Position Paper, (draft), March 2003, p.17.
Oxfam, Forgotten Villages, p.24.
World Bank , The Impact of the West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West
Bank Communities, p.26
B’Tselem: Land Grab, Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank, May 2002,
World Bank , The Impact of the West Bank Separation Barrier on Affected West
Bank Communities, p.31.
B’Tselem: Land Grab p. 52.
‘The dominant feeling of fear and uncertainty is negatively affecting the
amount of time and resources farmers are investing in their lands near the
wall area or west of the wall, especially in types of farming that require
expensive inputs such as green houses and irrigated trees and vegetables.’
PARC, Needs Assessment Study, p.5.
‘Defence Ministry wants fence moved deeper into West Bank,’ Ha’aretz 23
March 2003. However, Prime Minister Sharon has delayed authorising the
Defence Ministry’s recommendations, due to pressure from the US
administration and because of the increased cost. ‘Sharon delays final
decision on position of separation fence’, Ha’aretz, 6 April, 2003.
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