In June 2002, the Israeli government decided to build the "separation barrier," also known as the "security fence" or “security wall," or simply "the wall" along the Green Line. Its purpose is to control the entry of Palestinian West Bank residents into Israel. This decision came two years after the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada and the subsequent escalation of terrorist attacks inside Israel. Jerusalem found itself on the front lines. In the first two years of the intifada more than 330 Israelis were killed in it (one third of the total victims of the terrorist attacks); more than 6000 Jerusalemites were injured.
To avoid using the term "separation," the barrier surrounding Jerusalem was officially called the "Jerusalem envelope." Ir Amim prefers the term "barrier," as "Jerusalem envelope" is a euphemism, while neither "fence" nor "wall" are accurate, as in some places in Jerusalem, the barrier is a barbed wire fence, and in other places, a concrete wall. According to government sources, the length of the barrier will reach 202 km upon completion. As of May 2010, most of the construction in Jerusalem has been completed except for areas at the southeast end of the city (the Gush Etzion area) and the area east of Jerusalem (the Maale Adumim bloc). Recently, work has begun on the construction of the barrier in southern Jerusalem, which will surround the village of Walajeh; a number of petitions have been submitted against this route.
The official justification for the barrier is security, namely a physical separation between the Israeli and Palestinian spaces. Yet, in Jerusalem, the barrier does not always separate Israelis from the Palestinians, but also separates Palestinians from Palestinians. When we examine the route of the separation barrier in Jerusalem, it appears that non-military considerations also guided its delineation. These considerations include legitimizing the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, territorial expansion and demographic considerations. For further details.
The route of the separation barrier was designed to leave out large swathes of Palestinian Jerusalemites, designed to improve the demographic balance in the city. De facto, the barrier separates Jerusalem residents of the Shuafat refugee camp and the adjacent neighborhoods, Kafr Aqab, Semiramis and part of Walajeh, from their own city. By severing these neighborhoods from Jerusalem proper, residents of these neighborhoods have to pass through checkpoints to enter Jerusalem. Municipal services, which were minimal to begin with, are now almost non-existent; Despite having Jerusalem residency, residents of these neighborhoods do not even receive the most basic and vital services, such as police and ambulance service, health care, and garbage removal.
Presently there are 13 active checkpoints between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Palestinians with West Bank identity cards can only cross through three of these checkpoints: Qalandia in the north, Bethlehem (Checkpoint 300) in the south and the Olive Terminal (Ras Abu Sbitan) in the east. In order to go through these checkpoints, Palestinian residents of the West Bank have to show special permits from the Civil Administration and undergo thorough security inspections. Passing through these checkpoints involves many hours of waiting, harassment and arbitrary closures. Some of the checkpoints are for commercial use only and some are open to Israeli citizens, including Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. At these checkpoints inspections are random and relatively quick.
The implications of the separation barrier on the city must be examined from several angles:
1. Security: Since the barrier was built there has been a substantial drop in the number of terrorist attacks. However, it is not clear whether this can be exclusively attributed to the separation barrier. Simultaneously, Israel was increasing military action in the Palestinian territories, and the Palestinian Authority was working to prevent terrorist activity from its own territory. Meanwhile, there was a rise in terror attacks by Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.
2. Political: The barrier runs more or less along the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and includes most of the Palestinian neighborhoods and the Old City. Therefore, it is clear that the separation fence in its current route will not be able to function as the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
3. Socio-economic: The barrier has socio-economic effects in a number of areas: freedom of movement, health, education, the mass return of Palestinian residents to the city, economic deterioration, access of the Palestinian population of the West Bank to holy sites in Jerusalem and more.