The Israel/Palestine “Separation Barrier”
What: The Israeli government first proposed a physical barrier between Israel and the West Bank in 2002, saying it was necessary to prevent terrorists from entering Israeli territory. It is now more than half complete. Although often referred to as "the wall," in most places the barrier consists of an electronic fence surrounded by trenches and barbed-wire fences and is roughly 60 meters wide. The barrier has 66 gates, though many are often closed.
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How it divides: The most controversial aspect of the barrier is that most of it runs not along the "green line" separating Israel and the West Bank, but through ostensibly Palestinian territory. Palestinians living between the barrier and the green line require permits to remain in their homes. The wall has also been extended in several locations to encompass Israeli settlements on the West Bank, effectively annexing sections of Palestinian territory. The relatively few crossing points, even fewer of which are open at any given time, disrupt cross-border Palestinian trade. The International Court of Justice at the Hague has declared the wall to be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and ordered construction to stop. Like the Berlin Wall, the solid sections of the barrier have become a target for Palestinian graffiti artists.
Future: Israel has been forced to make several adjustments to the route of the wall due to challenges filed in Israel's Supreme Court. It now expects the wall to be completed next year, though that is already seven years behind schedule. Thanks to delays and cost overruns on the $2.5 billion project, some analysts now predict it will never be completed.