On the eve of the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) opening hearing on the
construction of the fence/wall by Israel, Amnesty International calls on the
Israeli authorities to immediately dismantle the sections already built inside
the West Bank and halt the construction of the fence/wall and related
infrastructure inside the Occupied Territories.
AI Index: MDE 15/018/2004 (Public)
News Service No: 034
19 February 2004
Embargo Date: 19 February 2004 00:01
Israel/Occupied Territories: The fence/wall violates
The Israeli government objects to the ICJ hearing the case, claiming that the
issue is "political".
"The construction by Israel of the fence/wall inside the Occupied
Territories violates international law and is contributing to grave human rights
violations. Therefore, it is appropriate that a court of law examines this
matter," said Amnesty International.
On 8 December 2003 the United Nations General Assembly, exercising its power
under Article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), passed a resolution
requesting the ICJ to issue an Advisory Opinion on the legal consequences of the
construction by Israel of the fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories.
The Israeli authorities claim that the fence/wall is "a defensive measure,
designed to block the passage of terrorists, weapons and explosives into the
State of Israel".
However, most of the fence/wall is not being built on the Green Line between
Israel and the West Bank. Close to 90% of it is on Palestinian land inside the
West Bank, encircling Palestinian towns and villages and cutting off communities
and families from each other. It separates farmers from their land and cuts off
Palestinians from their places of work, schools, health care facilities and
other essential services.
"Israel's legitimate needs to secure its borders and prevent access to people
who may constitute a threat to its security do not justify the building of such
a fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories. This could be built on
Israeli territory on the Green Line, where mechanisms to control entry of
outsiders could also be strengthened if deemed necessary," said Amnesty
The building of this fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories has severe
negative consequences for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. It imposes
unprecedented disproportionate and discriminatory restrictions on their
movements within the Occupied Territories and causes other violations of
their fundamental rights, including the right to work, to food, to medical care,
to education and to an adequate standard of living.
"Any measure Israel undertakes in the Occupied Territories in the name of
security must comply with its obligations under international law," said Amnesty
The route of the fence/wall has been designed to encompass more than 50 Israeli
settlements in the Occupied Territories, in which the majority of Israeli
settlers live and which are illegal under international law.
"The security exceptions in international law cannot be invoked to justify
measures that benefit unlawful Israeli settlements at the expense of the
occupied Palestinian population. The construction of the fence/wall inside the
Occupied Territories is such a measure and in its present configuration it
violates Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law," said
International human rights and humanitarian law requires Israel, as the
occupying power, to protect and ensure the rights of the Palestinian population
in the Occupied Territories.
Amnesty International urges the international community to ensure that Israel
fulfils its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law,
including its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva
"Attempts to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through
political negotiations must address and ensure respect for the fundamental human
rights of both populations," said Amnesty International.
The organization also reiterates its call on the Palestinian armed groups to put
an immediate end to their policy of killing and targeting Israeli civilians,
inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories, and on the Palestinian Authority
to take urgent concrete measures to prevent attacks by Palestinian armed groups
on Israeli civilians.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London,
UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:
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