The ICJ & the Wall of Shame

An Israeli military sign in Arabic announcing the check-point is open
from 7:40 to 8:00, 14:00 to 14:15, and 18:45-19:00, only 50 minutes a day

Today, 9 July, is the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the Wall — the so-called security fence — Israel has been building since June 2002, claimed by the Israeli government as necessary for self-defense, though it is visibly one of the more aggressive colonizing schemes in history. The IJC found the wall to be totally illegal and asked for it to be removed. In an excellent essay in Al-Ahram Weekly, called “We are no longer able to see the sun set,” Andrew Rubin describes the present situation in Palestine & argues that the ICJ’s ruling — an advisory opinion only, in fact — helps foster new peaceful means of resistance. Here are the two opening paragraphs, straightforward descriptions of the wall:

The Israeli wall — the so-called security fence — is daunting and ominous matrix of social control and demographic separation that is currently planned to be 670km long. It is thick and concrete, eight metres high, and at some points 104 metres deep. It is three times as high and twice as wide as the Berlin Wall. It is surrounded at a distance by nests of barbed wires, rolled up like stacks of hay piled high around it. High voltage circuits run through the so-called “smart fences”, three metres tall, that line the perimeter of the barrier. Between the fence and the wall is trench, over two metres deep, studded with piercing metal spikes.

Outside the smaller fence, the Israeli military has paved a path of finely ground sand that is groomed to make footprints visible. At certain intervals, there are 10m vertical steel poles housing highly powered stadium lights and surveillance cameras. Adjacent to the wall, on the Israeli side, stand huge and foreboding turrets and watchtowers where Israeli observers and snipers are stationed. The Israeli military has defined the area of the wall to be a “military zone”, and soldiers have orders to shoot to kill upon the discretion of the commanding officer.

Later in the essay, after having shown the disastrous result the illegal wall has on the Palestinian land and people, Rubin analyses Israel’s reasons for the wall:

What is actually occurring is Israel’s territorial consolidation of four principles which have guided Israeli political imagination since 1968: 1) that no Palestinian state shall share any borders with any other country other than Israel; 2) a Palestinian state will have no real or meaningful sovereignty, only a functional one subordinate to Israel’s sovereignty; 3) that Israel will preserve and institutionalise the existing conditions in the Occupied Territories by protecting existing Jewish settlements; and 4) Israel will continue to build illegal settlements to create the illusion that any cessation of construction is actually a sign of Israel’s willingness to compromise and a sign of its “good faith” — a strategy that is practised by both the Labour Party and Likkud, with the only real difference being the conservative or liberal ideology that is used to justify its ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank.

Again, the Israeli ideological strategy has always been informed by four general practices: the ongoing military occupation; the preservation and expansion of existing and illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Gaza; the construction of new settlements (roughly a 102 new ones); and the construction of the wall to preserve and make these practices seemingly physically irreversible realities on the ground. The function of part of the latter strategy — the building of the wall —- is as obvious as lines on the maps that represent its trajectory.

You can read the full article here.

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