Saturday, September 17, 2005

The "Other" Israeli Security Wall at Rafah, Gaza

As I posted yesterday, Hamas has breached the wall between Gaza and Egypt, allowing a massive surge of Palestinians to cross back and forth along the border area near the town of Rafah.

This wall has an interesting history.

Israel began building it in 2002 to prevent exactly the sort of thing that happened this week....the cross-border transfer of weapons and munitions.

In 2003, supposedly to increase security and establish a clear line of sight, Israel began demolishing over 940 homes (leaving an estimated 13,000 Palestinians homeless) in order to widen the open area between the border and the homes. It was during this demolition that the American activist Rachel Corrie was killed when she laid down in front of bulldozer and was crushed.

The map (seen below) shows the extant of the wall and its proposed expansion. Note that the border between Egypt and Gaza is only 7 miles in length.

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Click to enlarge

The irony of the wall is that, although it was built by Israel and has been christened "The Apartheid Wall" by pro-Palestinian supporters, now that Israel has left Gaza, both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are trying to preserve it!

Hamas, of course, and al-Qaeda, al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, etc, would like to see it torn down but, the wall that once provided security for Israel is now viewed by President Abbas as a useful control for keeping the integrity of the border intact.

Is it possible that, someday, the "other" security wall that Israel is building along the West Bank border will be viewed by a Palestinian Authority as something worth preserving as well?

For all the international huffing and puffing and indignation over the building of the Gaza wall it seems that, when it comes right down to it, if Israel had not built it, the Palestinian Authority might eventually have been forced to build it itself!

What follows are a few photos of the Gaza/Egypt/Rafah Wall (which is made of steel) and the cement/chain-link wall being built along the West Bank/Israel border.

The West Bank Wall

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Sniper tower
The Gaza/Egyptian Wall at Rafah
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Part of the cleared "security zone" at Rafah

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An Israeli tank takes a peek with the Gaza Wall behind it

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Palestinians pass through a breach in the wall last week

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Egyptian troops reinforcing the wall
It's been said that "good fences make good neighbors." One can only hope that, in this case at least, it might be true.