National Day of Resistance to the "Apartheid Wall" in Palestine

February 22, 2004

On February 23, the Palestinian people are organizing a national day of resistance to the wall being built by the Israeli government across the West Bank.

President Arafat will deliver a speech on the West Bank barrier in conjunction with the opening of hearings at the International Court of Justice. During Arafat's speech, all traffic in Palestine will stop and sirens and church bells will sound. Both public and private sector workers will observe a one-hour general strike. In addition scores of rallies and demonstrations are planned near the barrier at locations all across the West Bank.

As part of the national protest, government schools will teach lessons on the barrier and Friday prayers on February 20 were devoted to opposing the barrier, called the "apartheid wall" by the Palestinian government.

Below we print excerpts from a February 19 press release issued by Amnesty International which exposes the illegality of the Israel wall and its role in strengthening Israeli settlements and annexing more Palestinian land.

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.

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....

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 International.

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...."