It was December of 2002 when I first encountered the very beginnings of the separation barrier. I was visiting the Holy Land on an interfaith peace trip, and in order to reach a friend’s house for dinner in Abu Dis (a town right next to Jerusalem), which should have taken 10 minutes, we had to go a completely circuitous route that took 45 minutes. Then, in 2003, as an Ecumenical Accompanier with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, I marched with others down the main boulevard connecting Ramallah and Jerusalem protesting the plans for the separation barrier to go right down the middle of this big road, which would separate not Israelis from Palestinians but Palestinians from Palestinians, their families, schools and work. I remember being convinced that the world would not let this happen. I was wrong.
A new series, called 10 Years On, examines how things have developed during these 10 years since Ariel Sharon announced plans for the barrier in April of 2002, after the Passover suicide bombing and many others. The Israelis said they were building it in order to protect Israelis from suicide bombers. Many Palestinians, however, question the route of the barrier, which is twice as long as the Green Line and cuts deeply into the West Bank, appropriating around 10% of West Bank land within the Israeli side of the barrier. Palestinians question why, if the barrier is for security of Israelis, the barrier results in thousands of Palestinians on the Israeli side of the barrier and why the route follows settlements and allows plenty of room for their growth while cutting off areas of growth for Palestinian towns. Israelis believe the barrier has saved many Israeli lives, as suicide bombings have reduced in number since the beginning of the wall, while others point to other reasons, such as truces by Palestinian extremist groups and a general lack of support for suicide bombing.
The series is in seven parts, with interesting comments and debate about the effects, cost and benefit of the barrier. The link goes to part 7, and at the bottom there are links to the first 6 parts. Several slide shows by Active Stills and maps illustrate the series.