Israel–Gaza Strip barrier

Israel–Gaza Strip barrier

The Israeli Gaza Strip barrier (see
cite web |url= |title=Map of the Gaza Strip, pre-disengagement, March 2005, PDF |publisher="B'tselem" |accessdate=2008-05-23] ) is a separation barrier first constructed under the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Completely encircling the Gaza Strip, cite news |title=Life in Gaza Steadily Worsens |first=Anne |last=Barnard |work=The Boston Globe |date=2006-10-22 |url= ] the barrier is made up of wire fencing with posts, sensors and buffer zones on lands bordering Israel, and concrete and steel walls on lands bordering Egypt.

The Israeli Gaza Strip barrier is one of several constructed by various Israeli administrations in different locations to restrict and control the movement of Palestinian and other people for, according to the Israeli government, security and counter-terrorism purposes.

Origins and evolution

The first 60-kilometer-long barrier erected between Israel and the Gaza Strip was constructed after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994, under the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It was completed in 1996, but was largely torn down by Palestinians at the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. citation |title=Lessons of the Gaza Security Fence for the West Bank |author=Almog, Major General Doron |publisher=Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs |date=2004-12-23 |volume=4 |edition=12 |url= ]

In the April 26, 1994, Draft Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area, it states that "the security fence erected by Israel around the Gaza Strip shall remain in place and that the line demarcated by the fence, as shown on the map, shall be authoritative only for the purpose of the Agreement." [cite web |title=Draft Agreement on the Gaza Strip and Jericho Area (archived copy) |date=1994-04-26 |work=Palestine Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture |url= |format=PDF ]

Between December 2000 and June 2001, the part of the barrier separating the Gaza Strip from Israel was reconstructed. A one-kilometer buffer zone was added, in addition to new high technology observation posts. Soldiers were also given new rules of engagement, which, according to "Ha'aretz", allow soldiers to fire at anyone seen crawling there at night. cite news |title=IDF Kills Teen Crawling Toward Gaza Fence |first=Amos |last=Harel |coauthors=Issacharoff, Ari |work=Ha'aretz, English edition |date=2007-01-26 |url= ] Palestinians attempting to cross the barrier into Israel by stealth have been shot and killed, and have subsequently discovered to have been unarmed. cite news |title=Unarmed Palestinians Killed Scaling Gaza Fence |work=Associated Press |publisher=CTV |date=2002-12-12 |url= ]

Along the Egyptian border with Rafah, Israel established a 200-300 meter buffer zone known as the "Philadelphi Route" or Philadelphi corridor. cite paper |title=Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip |first=Fred |last=Abrahams |coauthors=Garlasco, Marc; and Li, Darryl |publisher=Human Rights Watch |date=2004-10-18 |format=PDF |url= ] cite news |title=We Are No Longer Able to See the Sun |first=Andrew |last=Rubin |work=Al Ahram Weekly |date=2005-07-07 |url= ] In order to construct this buffer zone, entire blocks of houses were demolished at the main entrance to Rafah's central thoroughway, in addition to the Al-Brazil Block, Tel al Sultan and others in "Block O."

A concrete wall over eight metres high equipped with electronic sensors and underground concrete barriers to prevent tunneling was constructed in 2005, adding to the already existent steel wall running the length of the border with Egypt. cite news |title=Israel Changes Anti-Smuggling Tactics |work=The Associated Press |publisher=USA Today |date=2005-03-22 |url= ]

Prior to the Israeli withdrawal in the summer of 2005, Rafah was an area of frequent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. Very often heavy fire, anti-tank missiles, and grenades had been fired on IDF forces and outposts. Israeli security officials have said that the heavy fortification system is meant to protect the soldiers' lives and stop smuggling tunnels which are used by Palestinian militants to obtain weapons and explosives.

Israel claims that the barrier has been effective in preventing terrorists and suicide bombers from leaving Gaza. Since 1996, virtually all suicide bombers trying to leave Gaza have detonated their charges at the barrier's crossing points or were stopped while trying to cross the barrier elsewhere. [cite news |url= |title=The Gaza Strip: Maps and Fact File |work=CTV |date=2006-07-04 ] [cite paper |first=Mitchell |last=Bard |author-link = Mitchell Bard |url= |title=Israel's Security Fence |publisher=Jewish Virtual Library |date=2007-01-09 |accessdate=2007-05-03 ] From 1994 until 2004 only one suicide bomber originating from within the Gaza Strip successfully carried out an attack in Israel (the sole exception being the March 14, 2004, attack in Ashdod). [cite paper |last=Barasch |first=Daniel B. |coauthors=Qadir, Lala R. |title=Overcoming Barriers: US National Security Interests and the West Bank Separation Barrier |format=PDF |publisher=John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University |date=2004-04-08 |page=20 |accessdate=2007-05-03 |url= ]

The barrier's effectiveness has prompted a shift in the tactics of Palestinian militants who have developed Qassam rockets and mortars to fire over the barrier. cite news |first=Bradley |last=Burston |title=Background: Hamas vs. Abbas:The Lethal Wildcard, A Profile |work=Haaretz |accessdate=2007-05-02 |url= ]

Crossing points

There are three crossing points in the barrier: the northern Erez Crossing into Israel, the southern Rafah Crossing into Egypt, and the eastern Karni Crossing used only for cargo. cite news |title=Gaza Crossing:Choked Passages to Frustration |first=Greg |last=Myre |work=The New York Times |date=2006-03-04 |url= ] Other cargo crossing points are the Keren Shalom Crossing on the border with Egypt and the Sufa Crossing further south. cite news |title=Palestinians Reject Use of Kerem Shalom for Gaza Cargo |first=Margo |last=Dudkavitch |coauthors=Halpern, Orly |work=The Jerusalem Post |date=2006-03-01 |url= ] The crossings are crucial to the population of 1.4 million in Gaza, an area too small to be self-sufficient at barely convert|6|mi|km wide and convert|25|mi|km long.

Erez Crossing

The Erez Crossing is the only pedestrian exit point from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Palestinians who have a permit to work in Israel or those with permits allowing them to receive medical treatment or to visit immediate family in prisons use this crossing providing that it is open. cite paper |title=Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the Closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip |work=Palestinian Centre for Human Rights |date=1996-05-16 |version=Closure Update No. 9 |url= ]

At the moment the crossing is only open for foreigners and for a few Palestinians with residence permit for other country or treatment in Israel.Fact|date=November 2007

Though 5,000 Palestinians were permitted to use the Erez crossing to go to their places of work inside Israel, the crossing is frequently closed by the Israeli authorities, impeding their ability to get to work. Additionally, the permits issued have not always been honoured by soldiers, who in some cases confiscated them at the crossing.

Karni Crossing

Karni is a crossing for the transportation of cargo and goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip and is vitally important to the Palestinian economy. The Karni crossing is often closed by Israel after attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli targets. Israeli officials have cited ongoing threats against its security and inaction against terrorist group activity on the part of the Palestinian Authority as leaving it with no other choice than to close the crossing. Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat described the closures as collective punishment and said they have "proven to be counter-productive".

Rafah Crossing

The Rafah Border Crossing lies on an international border between Egypt and Gaza that was first recognized after the conclusion of the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. Managed by the Israel Airports Authority until it was evacuated on 11 September, 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, it subsequently became the mission of the European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah (EUBAM) to monitor the crossing.

The crossing reopened with EUBAM monitors on 25 November 2005, and operated nearly daily until 25 June 2006, when the crossing was closed Palestinians attacked an Israeli border post and kidnapped a soldier. cite paper |publisher=United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs |title=The Agreement on Movement and Access One Year On |date=2006-11 |format=PDF |url= ] The crossing was infrequently reopened after this attack.. The export of goods does not take place at this crossing and in June 2007, the crossing was closed entirely after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian breaches of the barrier

In June 2006, Palestinian militants used an 800-meter tunnel dug under the barrier over a period of months to infiltrate into Israel, attack a patrolling Israeli armored unit, kill two Israeli soldiers, and capture another one. cite news |title=Palestinian Militants Attack Border |work=CBS News |date=2006-06-25 |url= ]

On 22 January 2008, after Israel imposed a total closure on all exits and entrances to the Gaza Strip, a group of Hamas demonstrators, many of whom were women, attempted to force open the door of the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt. They were beaten back by Egyptian police and gunfire erupted. That same night, Hamas militants set off 15 explosive charges demolishing a 200-metre length of the metal border wall that had been erected by Israel in 2004. After the resulting Breach of the Gaza-Egypt border, many thousands of Palestinians, with estimates ranging from 60,000 to 350,000 flowed into Egypt to buy goods. Palestinians were seen purchasing food, fuel, cigarettes, shoes, furniture, car parts, generators, and even weapons. cite news |title=Militants blow up Rafah barrier |date=2008-01-24 |work=World News Australia |url= |accessdate=2008-01-24 ] cite news |title=Egypt blocks Palestinian 'exodus' in Gaza |work=AsiaNews |url= |date=2008-01-24 |accessdate=2008-01-24 ]

See also

* Israeli West Bank barrier
* Philadelphi Route
* Hafrada (Separation)
* Gaza Strip
* Disengagement plan


External links

* [ "How to Build a Fence"] by David Makovsky, "Foreign Affairs Magazine", March/April 2004.

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