A Decade of Illegality

10 July 2014

Ten years ago, on 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued its 'Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory'. The Court found that the construction of the Wall, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, to be contrary to international law, and that Israel is under an obligation to cease among other things, construction of the Barrier and to dismantle sections already constructed.

Since construction began, in 2002, the Barrier has transformed the physical and human landscape of the West Bank. It has disrupted ecosystems, interrupted the contiguity of the territory, destroyed livelihoods and separated families and communities. The Barrier and its associated regime remains today the single largest obstacle to Palestinian movement in the West Bank, cutting people off from homes, lands and services, as well as traditional economic, social, cultural and religious centres, including East Jerusalem. With an average population of 27 per cent Palestine refugees, some 170 communities in the West Bank are directly affected by the Barrier.

UNRWA reminds the Government of Israel and the international community at large of the illegality of the construction of the Barrier and its associated regime. UNRWA echoes calls to comply with the Court's 2004 conclusions, including that Israel should halt construction, immediately dismantle the Barrier and repeal all legislation or regulations pertaining to its construction and its associated regime.

On the eve of the anniversary, a joint advocacy event was hosted in the Bethlehem-area village of Al Walaja by the Humanitarian Country Team. UN officials including Felipe Sanchez (Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank) and James Rawley (UN Humanitarian Coordinator), along with Abdel Rahman Abu Atteen (head of Al Walaja village council), spoke on the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. A walking tour emphasized the history of the village and the effects of the Barrier, while a film, projected onto the Barrier itself, highlighted both the ICJ ruling and the devastating impact of construction.