LAW files petition against construction of Israel's apartheid wall
By LAW Society
August 21, 2002

On Monday, August 19, 2002, LAW's lawyer Aazem Bishara filed a petition at the office of the Attorney General of the Israeli army, demanding an interim injunction against three Israeli military orders which allow actual land and property confiscation for the purpose of constructing Israel's apartheid wall.

The petition was filed on behalf of 34 Palestinian families from various villages located along the 'Green Line', the demarcation line between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Deir al- Ghusoun, Shweika, Tel, Farasin, Baqa Sharkia and Kafin. The wall will be either build on their land, separates them from their land, prevents access to their land, or benefit from their land.

The petition demands that the Attorney General annuls the three military orders, 17/2002/T, 20/2002/T, 22/2002/T, which were issued by Israel's military commander of the Westbank, Moshe Kaplinski, which state that the Israeli army will 'cease' (confiscate) these lands until December 31, 2005.

The petition demands an interim injunction to prevent the start of the construction until a decision concerning the matter has been made. In the case, the demands are rejected, the petition argued that Israel's apartheid wall would be built on the June 4, 1967 demarcation line and not on occupied Palestinian land, or on the expense of Palestinians who own deeds proving ownership of the land since the Jordanian administration and the British Mandate.

The military orders and the construction of the wall violates basic principles of international (humanitarian) law. The Hague Regulations prohibit the occupying power to undertake permanent changes in the occupied area, unless these are due to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population.

The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ('Oslo II') of September 28, 1995, provides that 'neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations'. Moreover, the agreement states that 'the two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during the interim period'. Moreover, territorial jurisdiction is defined as the Gaza Strip territory, except for the settlements and Israeli installations, and the West Bank territory, except for Area C which, 'except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in three phases'.

Israel started preparations for the construction of its apartheid wall on June 16, 2002, near the village Salem, west of Jenin, towards the north, reaching Tulkarem. Israeli officials have stated that the wall will be finished by the end of this year. The wall will separate fourteen villages and isolate them from their agricultural lands. The barrier will be 115 kilometres (70 miles) long, it will include fences, trenches and security patrols. And this is only the first phase, eventually it is meant to extend the full 350-km (220 mile) length of the West Bank.

LAW believes that the construction of the apartheid wall, including land confiscations for the purpose of the construction of the wall, violates basic principles of international (humanitarian) law.

The form of apartheid Israel applies against Palestinians fulfils all elements of the crime of apartheid as defined under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1976), which expressly states that the crime of apartheid 'shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa' (art.2).

LAW condemns these flagrant violations of human rights and calls on the international community to condemn racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. LAW urges the international community to take effective measures to dismantle Israel's apartheid system, lift the closure and siege on Palestinian towns and villages and and ensure the freedom of movement.