Amnesty Says Israel Should Tear Down Wall

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

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The wall Israel is building to separate itself from the Palestinian territory is illegal, has caused deaths.
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The barrier Israel is building in the occupied West Bank has caused deaths and suffering among Palestinians and should be torn down, rights group Amnesty International said in a new report on Monday.
The report, coinciding with the eve of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, broke no new ground but cautioned that continued construction of the project risked prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Israel’s … legitimate security concerns are no excuse for blatant violations of international law, nor the mistreatment of thousands of Palestinians in a massive programme of collective punishment,” Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen said.
Israel has said the barrier, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice because it runs through occupied territory, has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching its cities and could be removed under a future peace agreement.
The barrier, mostly razor wire-tipped fences and shorter sections of concrete walls, already stretches for 220 miles (350 km) and is planned to cover 450 miles (720 km) when finished.
Amnesty said the barrier created a breeding ground for Palestinian resentment against Israel and, if completed to plan, would encircle 12 West Bank villages and 31,400 people, with more than half a million Palestinians living within a kilometre (half-mile) of it.
“The Palestinian economy has virtually collapsed under the weight of harsh restrictions by Israel … This has only fuelled despair and poverty among a young and increasingly radicalised Palestinian population,” the report said.
Israel tightened restrictions on Palestinians after they began an uprising in 2000. Western countries cut off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority after Islamist Hamas, which does not recognise Israel, came to power in a 2006 election.

“ENDURING OCCUPATION”
The report, “Enduring Occupation — Palestinians under siege in the West Bank”, also attacked Israel’s policy of mobile checkpoints which it said had directly caused deaths by imposing unnecessary delays on Palestinians trying to get to hospital.
“Contrary to official claims about Israel’s overall security needs, the checkpoints and restricted West Bank roads appear to exist mainly for the benefit of Israel’s settlements — settlements that are themselves illegal,” Allen said.
The 50-page report says the barrier has deliberately been built to seize Palestinian land amounting to 10 percent of the West Bank in what it describes at a state-sponsored land grab.
Palestinian homes are being bulldozed and Israeli settlements — also judged illegal by the International Court of Justice — are in effect being sanctioned as fences and walls are diverted around them, the report said.
It catalogued a series of ill or injured people who it said had died as a result of delays passing through the West Bank’s 550 checkpoints or mobile checkpoints or who had been shot dead by

Israeli forces manning watchtowers along the route of the barrier.

The Israeli military says its soldiers are under orders to render assistance in humanitarian cases.
The report noted the 100-kilometre (60 mile) journey from Hebron in the south of the West Bank to Nablus in the north took less than two hours for Israeli settlers but could take most of a day or was not possible at all for Palestinians.
Amnesty called on Israel to end closures and movement restrictions, stop building the barrier and tear down those parts on Palestinian territory, stop building settlements and destroying Palestinian homes and ensure justice for all.
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Published: June 03, 2007 14:33h/REUTERS
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