Lawrence of Cyberia published a very important post, One Thousand, Two Hundred And Seventy-Six People Per Week, about the complete ineffectuality of Israel’s Separation Wall. You know, that’s the miracle barrier meant to seal off Israel from terror attack. The same one whose purpose was never in a million years to make a land grab for Palestinian territory outside the Green Line. The same one that has cost billions to build. The same one which the World Court called a violation of international law.
Diane Mason’s post shows the utter futility of the Wall as security barrier. And she shows it with statistics furnished by the Israeli police themselves:
Israeli politicians tell us that their only purpose in building the Wall is to secure Israel from suicide bombers, and that its proven track record in that regard justifies its continuing construction on Palestinian land: as if we are too stupid to read for ourselves the Israeli security service’s warning that the respite in suicide bombings is due to the truce that Hamas has maintained, and not the Wall, which the militants have already learned to bypass.
…Although the Wall is capable of inflicting misery on a great many Palestinians, it is difficult to believe that it is capable of keeping suicide bombers out of Israel, seeing as it is already proving incapable of keeping out thousands of Palestinians who circumvent it to avoid being cut off from work or other essential services.
A news item…was broadcast…[recently] on Israel’s Channel Two:
“Last night, Israeli television broadcast a report showing Tel Aviv police hunting Palestinian workers who bypass the Wall to look for work.
A Channel Two camera crew accompanied Israeli police patrols as they raided construction sites and arrested workers who were sleeping outside or in builders’ workshops…
The report revealed that Israeli police said they arrested 17,620 Palestinian workers inside the Green Line during the last two months. It also reported that 2,552 were arrested in the past two weeks…
The report said in conclusion: ‘The wall, siege, security cordon, police patrols and border guards have not prevented tens of thousands of workers from reaching Tel Aviv every month’”.
Two thousand, five hundred and fifty-two arrests in just two weeks adds up to an awful lot of people circumventing Israel’s Wall. And of course those numbers reflect the absolute minimum number of Palestinians who successfully bypass it, as they count only those who are arrested while working inside Israel, not those who remain there undetected.
Israelis can believe if they want to their own propaganda about how the dreadful things they do to the Palestinian people are necessary for “security needs”. If they are more comfortable believing that the Wall in the West Bank is a defensive measure that has stopped the suicide attacks, rather than a land-grabbing measure which – from a security perspective – leaks like a sieve, I guess they have that right. But they don’t have the right to expect the rest of us to be stupid enough to believe it too.
The next time Israeli apologists tell you that the Wall is a security measure that keeps suicide bombers out of Israel, just remember the number 1,276. One thousand, two hundred and seventy six is – at a minimum – the average number of permit-less Palestinians who bypass the Wall on a weekly basis to work in Israel. They are asking you to believe that the destitution Israel’s West Bank land grab inflicts on some of the poorest people on earth is justified because a wall which is breached at least 1,276 times a week by undocumented workers is nevertheless impermeable to suicide bombers. That’s what they’re asking you to believe.
That’s how stupid they think you are.
I did some math and it works out that if you annualized the numbers in the Channel 2 report 67,000 Palestinians would be arrested in a year within Israel. But as Diane says, that’s not how many actually cross over the wall to work illegally in Israel. Even if you presume that some of those 67,000 may be the same individuals arrested more than once, the number of individuals crossing must be at least twice or more higher. So a very conservative estimate would find well over 100,000 Palestinians crossing the Green Line. We can even concede that it’s possible that some of those crossing are not physically crossing the Wall since it is not complete in certain places.
But the truth of Diane’s claim remains solid. The Wall is a sham as a security measure. It is a shibboleth meant to allow Israeli politicians to soothe the Israeli populace that they are doing something to protect them from terror. It may even be possible that it poses some slight obstacle to a would-be terror bomber. But whatever obstacle it poses is minor indeed as you look at these images that Diane features at her blog.
Diane Mason lies when ahe says that “Israeli security service’s warning that the respite in suicide bombings is due to the truce that Hamas has maintained” and perpetuate her lie when you repeat it without correctng it. If you follow her link you will learn that “The Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces attribute the reduction mainly to the improvement in their joint capability to foil terrorist attacks and to act against terrorist organizations” and that “The fence does make it harder for them, but the flawed inspection procedures at its checkpoints, the gaps and uncompleted sections enable suicide bombers to enter Israel.” In other words it is necessary to improve the inspections at checkpoints and close the gaps and uncompleted parts to further improve security and I totally agree. The biggest mistake would be for the IDF to withdraw and rely solely on the wall and Fatah’s and Hamas’s good will.
The article does state that “the main reason for the reduction in terrorist acts over the past year is the truce in the territories, as partial as it may be” but no where is this atributed as the opinion of the Israeli security services. This is the author’s (Amos Harel) opinion and no more.
I correct my last comment. The article does atribute to the shin bet the decline being from the hamas truce (2006). In fact the first paragraph and fourth paragraph completely contradict each other so I have doubts regarding the accuracy of this article. I have to do some reearch on this. Soory.
This article by Ha’aretz is a good example of how a newspaper with a leftist ideology distorts the news to deceive the public. It is also a good example of how in the age of the internet their lies can be exposed. At first I searched for other news sources that reported on this shin bet report and could not find any. All other posts about this linked to the story by Amos Harel. I was able to find the actual report though, and after reading the report it can only be concluded that Ha’arets deliberately lies to its readers. No way can reading the shin bet report lead to a conclusion that the Palestinian truce is the main reason for reduced terror or that the fence is ineffective. The report stresses that in spite of the “truce” (quotation marks in report everytime referring to the truce) the motivation to carry out attacks did not change and the number of warnings about emminent attacks was high, the hamas carried out attacks without claiming responsibility and assisted the Jihad in carrying out attacks so that the Hamas would not be accused of breaking the truce. The number of attacks by Islamic Jihad increased. The number of attacks from Samaria was reduced while it increased from Judea and this is directly attributed to the fence being more complete in Samaria than in Judea. During 2005, 160 potential suicide bombers were captured in Judea and Samaria. In other words, the Haraetz artice is a complete hoax. In no way can the conclusions Amos Harel reaches be attributed to the shin bet report. At best, if I want to give him some slack, it can be said that this is his interpretation of data provided by the shin bet, but his conclusions are the complete opposite of the conclusions of the shin bet and to attribute them to the shin bet is a lie.
I must say that since reading your blog, my respect for ha’arets has plundered.
To see the shin bet report go to
and click on the word file icon to the left. It’s in hebrew of course.
By the way those numbers are total BS. According to Maan news service, an Israeli news report that we cannot access 300 (17,620/60) Palestinians were arrested every day by Israeli police in the past two months. I don’t have to do any googling to tell you that is complete bullshit. That’s six busloads a day. It’s so absurd it’s laughable. Meanwhile, Haaretz in an editorial today says: “The occupied territories and the Palestinians living there are slowly becoming virtual realities, distant from the eye and the heart. Palestinian workers have disappeared from our streets.” source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/909327.html
There is no truce Israel is in a war with the Hamas, just read the Israeli and the Hamas papers. Israel is bening shot from Gaza. The Hamas is rulling Gaza with iron fist and without its blessing no body but no body will fire a gun at Israel, being dropped from the 15th floor is no fun. Every body knows and says that the bloody terrible fence by it self is only one part of a system. Still as a fact since it was erected there has been much less infiltartion of mad killers into central Israel.
Another aside. Just look at the picture of the people crossing the fence, they are perfect targets yet not one was ever shot. Either the Israelies are blind and stupid or they are not the cold blood killers they are supposed to be, The fence is an evil thing but as far as can be seen it saved people lives and as the article clearly prove it does not prevent Arabs from praying or from working in Israel, even if illegally.
I’m going to be honest with you, even though it may make me look bad. I found an Israeli source which gave similar numbers to the ones quoted for the number of Palestinians crossing the greenline. They give the number 1,180 in one weekend, BUT 1,075 of them were in the Jerusalem area (almost all of them) and from the clip, it is not obvious if most of them are caught after crossing or while trying to cross. Also, the reason given is that in Jerusalem THE BARRIER ISN’T COMPLETE. This, of course is because of all the legal obstacles opponents of the barrier povide. This information supports the notion that the barrier prevents terror, and combined with the Shin Bet report it is the lack of completeness of the barrier which is the problem.
source: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/511/104.html In Hebrew of course. It’s important to listen to the clip as well.
Richard Silverstein says
You have now crossed the line here at this blog. You’ve accused Diane Mason, a blogger I respect enormously, of lying & me of abetting her alleged lie. Look at the title of the article: Shin Bet: Palestinian truce main cause for reduced terror. Diane’s claim is precisely the title of the article. So on that account I’m banning you from this site until you apologize to Diane and me for yr odious statement. And saying later that “I correct my last comment” is not satisfactory.
You do appear to be correct in saying that Harel’s statement (at least in the English version of this article–& I would make no judgements about this article until reading the original Hebrew since Haaretz is notorious for truncating its articles & even changing their tone & substance in translation) about the fence may be his own opinion. But the title claims otherwise & it is hard to reconcile the two possible contradictions.
You missed this JPost article which has its own ideological axe to grind.
If a Palestinian worker can surmount a 25 foot wall to enter Israel so can a terror bomber. It’s that simple. You can finish the barrier. You can put all the high tech gear you want on top of it. But a terrorist is going to get through because there is no way to stop someone determined to do this.
And the fact of the matter is that until very recently Hamas had observed a hudna on terror attacks & that WAS a significant contribution to the reduction in attacks. You as a confirmed anti-Palestinian do yr best to denigrate this fact. But yr bias is clear for all to see.
I will be doing more research on the Shin Bet rpt. & Harel’s article.
The fact that the IDF does not shoot & kill poor Palestinians crossing the Wall to find what meager sources of work & income they can in Israel is supposed to be a plus in the army’s favor???
If it doesn’t prevent a Palestinian worker fr. entering Israel then it doesn’t prevent a would be bomber fr. doing so either. The evidence is right there in front of yr eyes & yet you hang on the pablum peddled to you by the Shin Bet, IDF & rightist pols. Amazing.
Richard Silverstein says
What does that mean? You went to the Channel 2 site & couldn’t find the story? What else did you do? Contact the station & ask them whether the story’s available? Contact Maan for verification of the story? Before you claim the story is inaccessible why don’t you do a bit more work to verify that.
Certainly Haaretz says that Palestinian workers have disappeared from Israeli STREETS, because they have. If you read the accts. of Palestinian workers they live underground basically (in sheds, on construction sites, etc.) because they are illegal & subject to immediate arrest & deportation. Why WOULD they show their faces on Israeli streets?
You never cease to amaze me as an expert on every subject. So now you’re an Israeli expert on Palestinian migration to Israel & the numbers of immigration arrests made. If you’re so smart why don’t you do some research & call the police to find out what the real number is & whether the story is accurate or not? How hard would that be as you live there? I don’t mind you attempting to debunk stories, but at least do it w. facts & work instead of based on hunches & groundless claims.
As has yr command of the English language as you meant “plummeted.” I don’t think Haaretz or I are going to lose much sleep over what you think of that august publication.
That’s right, I meant plummeted.
I served once during reserve service at the Erez crossing many years ago. Everyday thousands of workers with permits were allowed through. At the same time a few dozen workers without permits would try to sneak in through the nearby fields (before there was a fence). We would ride out with a jeep and take them to the police station where they were “arrested” given a fine (like a speeding ticket) and returned to the other side. If we are talking about these kind of arrests then the numbers are believable, especially around jerusalem where there is no barrier, but if we are talking about uncovering workers in their hideouts”underground” as you say, then I find that extremely hard to believe. Not because I don’t believe that the workers exist, but because I don’t believe that the Israeli police have the resources to arrest and deport so many people every day. This is my opinion.
A general observation. It seems to me that this blog is not a TOFEL exam nor English 100 for aliens. If it is, and the quality of English is the prime interest of this blog please let me know. I hate, realy, to impose on you.
1. I did not ask any body to give points to the IDF for not shooting at civilians I just observed that according to the blog in question the IDF is not a brutal killing machine as it is often depicted.
2. The problem of preventing demented mass killers of civilans [ does any body have another name for these monsters?] is complicated. As I have said this ugli wall is a part of a system which I want to abolish but find it essential at this moment. It is true that where workers pass some of these terrorists mass killer can pass too. But the wall makes it hard and as your pictures show very obsrvable. Often Palestinian workers will keep such passing tricks and methodes secret to prevent the passing of these mad killers. You are not saying that “all Arabs are the same” and that “all Arabs are blind supporters of these monsters”, are you?. As in the USA there are many, very many, illegal workers in Israel, people have to have bread. The well known fact is that the number of the Palestinians “illegals” working in Israel right now is growing and nobody know exactly this number. Every week that pass without bombing and terrorist activities increases this number. Do you object? I as an Israeli do not. Better pay a Palestinian worker than shoot him. If the wall decreased terror, as it did, and thus increased the acceptance in Israel of Palestinian workers one should be happy even about such small, very small, positive hapening.
Zhu Bajie says
Well! The Great Wall of China never kept anyone out, and evidently the Wall of Israel/Pal. doesn’t either! I predict, no greater success for Bush’s Great Wall of N. America either!
I am glad that 1) Pals. are earning a living, buying food, somehow and that 2) Israelis and Pals. have economic reasons for cooperating. Amateur historians blame everything on religion; pros. look to economics! I had heard that the dirty work in recent years was done by Fujianese and Thais.
Richard Silverstein says
Yes, and Romanians too. For Israel this is a much better deal than having Palestinian workers since foreign workers have no longstanding violent history with Israel, have no ongoing ties to Israel or the Mideast region, and eventually go home. But the irony is that many of these workers have been killed and wounded in terror attacks. They end up doing the shit jobs no one else wants and get killed in the bargain.
Peter H says
The bottom line, if the Wall must be built, it must be built within Israel or along the Green Line. Currently, the vast majority of the Barrier runs through Palestinian territory. This has nothing to do with stopping suicide bombers and everything to do with poliitcal reasons. B’Tselem published a report demonstrating the examples in which the route of the Wall directly follows the expasions plans of Israeli settlements
Peter H says
The B’tselem report is over 6 MB long, so it may take a long time to download. I found a shorter version of the presentation here:
Peter – If Israel had only built the barrier along the green line then nobody would be complaining, right? For example, when Israel pulled out of Lebanon they withdrew to the border (blue line) that the United Nations demacated. Ever since then we’ve had nothing but peace and tranqulity along the Lebanese border, right? Some people never learn anything. Not only have the Hizballah made new demands (Har Dov) and villages divided (Ghajar) but leftists and the UN have supported negotiating their new demands, rather than support Israel unequivocaly for adopting their former position. If Israel made the barrier along the Green line, a dozen Ghajar’s would pop up. The hardship would probably be even greater on the Arabs than it is now (not to mention the Jews, but you obviusly don’t care about them). Furthermore, as far as I know there is no such thing as “Palestinian territory” but areas A, B and C.
Peter H – I just saw the shorter B’tselem report which i thought was very nice and imformative. Speaking for myself, i have no problem with the fact that the barrier is meant to provide security for some 400,000 Israelis in Judea and Samaria.
Richard Silverstein says
No, no one would have a right to complain if Israel built the barrier within its own territory since this is a generally accepted international border.
Actually, the Lebanese border HAS been fairly quiet except for a few incidents including the kidnappings of last summer. You are either ignorant or deliberately misstating the facts if you claim that the return of Shebaa Farms is a NEW demand. The territory has never been Israel’s and even it agrees that it needs to return it to someone. The question has been to whom? But as long as Israel retained territory not its own of course this would provoke tension & violence.
You are at yr least persuasive when you appear as a mouthpiece for the most perverse Israeli policies. Yr comment above is you at yr worst I’m afraid. Your position is basically: fuck ’em. They wouldn’t be happy if we built it on the Green Line so let’s really screw ’em by building it directly on their land. The problem is you project what would happen if it was built within international norms but have no way of knowing what actually would happen.
This reminds me a Marx Brother’s movie in which Groucho imagines meeting the leader of a foreign country & shaking his hand in friendship. Then he imagines what would happen if he held out his hand & the foreign leader rejected it. Groucho gets so angry that when the man actually enters the room Groucho slaps him in the face and starts a war. This is precisely what you are doing. In order to defend the indefensible you imagine that even if Israel followed the rules no one would be happy so Israel might as well break all the rules.
Say WHAT? Prove it.
Amir, this is precisely why I’ve threatened to ban you twice in the recent past. I simply will not countenance such ad hominem & false attacks. Peter is Jewish. To say he doesn’t care about Israeli Jews is simply odious & unacceptable. I’m getting tired of demanding you apologize for stupid things you say but I insist you do so to Peter. If you’re so addicted to such nonsense you’re going to have to do it somewhere else on the web.
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean–whether it’s another one of yr wisecracks or whether you’re trying to defend a typical rightist view that the Palestinians have no right to land of their own. If the latter then you’re being typically ridiculous & persuade no one.
So then you’re defending the Occupation & theft of Palestinian land. Nice. I find you more & more odious. Why do you bother commenting here? Or perhaps the better question should be why do I allow you to continue to participate here?
Withdrawing to the green line would place the 400,000 or so Jews that live across the line at grave danger or under extreme hardship for having to relocate. My impression is that this does not concern the left very much.
Different people may have different definitions of what “Palestinian territory” is. Land across the green line is divided to area A, B, and C. C, by agreement, is under Israeli security and civil rule until final status negotiations are completed. As far as I know the barrier is only in the territory marked C.
Richard Silverstein says
Preposterous. The Wall has no bearing on the IDF’s ability to protect settlers. The Army would protect them no matter where the Wall was built. What really worries you is that a Wall on the Green Line might militate toward Israel giving back more territory on which current settlements sit than it would with the Wall’s current configuration.
Ah, I see. You meant Peter didn’t have sympathy with “Jewish” settlers. That’s different than what you actually wrote. As far as sympathy for settlers, most Jews would have some. I do. I don’t fully blame many of them for what happened. Except for the extremists driven by Biblical passion or hatred of Arabs, most went because their government encouraged them to. They are in some sense victims of a settlement policy which is just now coming back to haunt Israel. I don’t feel they should be abandoned.
Then again, I don’t feel Israel should continue to shoulder the enormous burden of supporting the settlement movement & its infrastructure. I say bring back those who wish to return after an Israeli-Palestinian settlement like what was done for Gaza settlers. Many settlers in the major settlement blocs will probably remain under Israeli sovereignty in a final peace agreement. Those who don’t want to return to Israel or who live outside the settlement blocs should be given the option of living under Palestinian sovereignty after an agreement.
Also true. I am not ashamed to admit it. But it also important security wise.
Not if they are on the wrong side of the fence. Which is precisely why the Arabs and the left are so opposed to it. I find it hard to believe that the Arabs, who stand by as generation after generation of Arabs live in the worst conditions in “refugee camps” in Lebanon without any political or even civil rights, care so much for the hardships of a few thousand farmers.
Richard Silverstein says
First, you vastly underestimate the number of Palestinians severely impacted by the Wall. Meron Benvenisti’s research comes up with a much higher number & frankly he’s more authoritative than you on this subject. And second, perhaps Arabs care so much for the hardships of these Palestinians for the same reason that so many Diaspora Jews care so much for the hardships of Israeli Jews. Did that ever cross your mind?
Diaspora Jews care for the hardships of Jews all over the world including the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Iran everywhere there are Jews. Arabs seem to show diproportionate interest for certain Palestinians and total disregard for others. Did the Lebanese army’s attack against Nahr al-Bared and the fleeing of the entire 30,000 population receive the attention the Jenin refugee camp received where nothing on the same order of magnitude occured. Is their any outcry for the fact that second, third and fourth generation Lebanese of Palestinian heritage are denied political as well as CIVIL rights in what truly is an apartheid system? If you’re a Guatemalan and illegaly cross the border from Mexico to California you probably have more rights than a man in Lebanon whose father and grandfather were born in Lebanon if his father was born 20 miles south in what was then Palestine.
Peter H says
Settlements are illegal. While I do not condone attacks on settlers (which, since settlers are civilians, are a violation of international law), my belief is that it’s immoral & illegal to infringe on the human rights of Palestinians to protect settlers.
What the B’tselem/Binkom report shows is that even if one accepts the objective of constructing the Barrier to protect settlers, it still does not explain the route of the Barrier. Rather, it was routed (in many instances) to pave the way to build new settlements and expand existing settlements .
Richard Silverstein says
That is a gross overstatement. Abe Foxman could give 2 craps about poor Jews in Siberia or Hungary. He only cares about Diaspora Jews who are beaten up by Muslim thugs or Israeli Jews killed or injured by terror attacks (not that they aren’t deserving of concern). He only cares about Jews whose jeopardy corresponds to his own ideological & political agenda. The same holds true for AIPAC & AJC. As a result those Jewish groups struggling to meet the needs of poor Jews who aren’t high on the priority list get short shrift. Some of these groups do amazing work. But they’re far less well funded & get far less attention.
So in short Jewish groups are just as selective about which Jews they care about as Arab groups.
You clearly have no clue about what U.S. border crossings have become like post 9/11. The treatment of all foreigners at border crossings has become a nightmare in many cases with people treated to arbitrary detention & arrest. Conditions are undoubtedly bad in Lebanon for Palestinians. But to claim one situation is worse than the other is hard to defend. Another thing you neglect to understand is that the U.S. has been a democracy for over 200 yrs. Lebanon is still creepting toward democracy & is still recovering from a horrible civil war. It hasn’t had a chance to sort out all the divisive ethnic/immigration issues as we have here (sometimes quite unsuccessfully btw).
even your rebuttal of my comment supports my comment since you admit that Jewish groups are doing “amazing work” in fields that the ADL, AIPAC and AJC “short shrift”. I do not kno if this true or not, but I never made any claims about those three groups you mentioned.
Are you saying that arresting someone for illegaly crossing an international border is “arbitrary”? I’ve read of illegal aliens in the US getting medical care in hospital emergency rooms, paying in state tuition and state universities, being eligible for driver’s licenses, cities declaring themselves sanctuaries etc. Lebanese of Palestinian heritage, i have read, are not allowed to live outside the “refugee camp” cannot hold political office, are not allowed to hold certain jobs and have limited etc. And yet, you hardly ever hear a word of protest from “human rights” groups, Arab groups, Muslim groups or the UN.
Richard Silverstein says
Not at all. You claimed that all Jews care about all other Jews. I pointed out that the most powerful, wealthiest & pro-Israel groups here do not care for all Jews. American Jewish World Service & the Joint Distribution Committee which are the groups I was referring to exist on a pittance of what the other groups do. These 2 groups live in the shadows of the others.
You simply don’t know what life is like for immigrants in this country. I’m not saying it’s as bad as for Palestinians in Lebanon. But it is quite far worse than it ever has been since 9/11. We are no longer a nation that welcomes immigrants. We tolerate them & just barely. And then only because they do jobs we wouldn’t be caught dead doing. Many states refuse to provide the very services you claim immigrants enjoy & in fact practically criminalize them.
I never said that. I made a generelization about diaspora Jews which I stil believe holds true. Chabad, for example, probably has reached out to most communities including the ones you mention. I would hardly call the Joint a smalltime operation. ADL and AIPAC have very specific and narrow ajendas. You can be sure that if any country in the world treated Jews the way Lebanon treats people of Palestinian heritage, those big groups woulds not sit idly by.
You seem to forget that illegal immigrants criminilize themselves by illegaly entering the United States. As bad as life is for illegal immigrants in the states, as you say, apparently it’s good enough for them to keep coming.
Richard Silverstein says
You seem to have forgotten this piece of wisdom from the Torah: “You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Would it hurt you for once to have a bit of sympathy for those less fortunate than yourself??