Amnesty slams West Bank fence for contributing to Palestinian poverty
Israel’s construction of a security fence in the West Bank is crippling the Palestinian economy and causing widespread poverty, unemployment and increasing health problems, said human rights group Amnesty International in a report published Monday, September 8, 2003.
According to the report, the fence has resulted in further restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, cutting tens of thousands of people from the rest of the West Bank and from their farming land and irrigation water. Unemployment has soared to over 50 percent, more than half the population is now living below the poverty line and malnutrition and other illnesses have increased.
"Israel must put an end to the imposition of disproportionate and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians' movement in the Occupied Territories,” reads the report. Closures, blockades, checkpoints, curfews and a barrage of other restrictions imposed by the Israeli army on Palestinians have made even short journeys between towns and villages difficult, dangerous and often impossible - effectively confining some three and a half million Palestinians to a form of town arrest.
The restrictions have often prevented Palestinians from reaching their workplaces or distributing their products and factories and farms have been driven out of business by losses incurred, dramatically increased transport costs and loss of export markets.
Most Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are forced to rely, to some degree at least, on charity for food and other basic needs. "The existence of charity and humanitarian assistance do not absolve Israel from its obligation to ensure the Palestinians' right to work, so that they can feed themselves and their families with dignity," said Amnesty International.
The Israeli government began construction work on the controversial electronic fence last year in an attempt to prevent suicide bombers from entering the country from the West Bank. The first 110 kilometers of the $220 million project
The fence is forecasted to extend the entire length of the West Bank, 350 kilometers, costing one million dollars per kilometer. The barrier consists of a series of fences, walls, ditches, patrol roads and electronic surveillance devices. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)