Top court turns down Palestinian case on barrier

Justices call structure "one of the last obstacles standing in the way of terrorists on their way into J'lem to carry out their murderous plans."

August 24, 2011 04:54
2 minute read.
MKs tour the security fence

Security fence tour for gallery 465. (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)

The Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a petition by Palestinian villagers to prevent the security barrier from being erected near the village of Walaja, just south of Jerusalem.

The panel of justices, which included Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Asher Grunis and Uzi Fogelman, canceled a temporary order that has prevented the section of the security barrier from being constructed.

“We believe that the damage the security barrier will do to the petitioners is in fair proportion to the tremendous security benefits the barrier affords,” wrote Beinisch in the judgement.

The dispute was over a 700- meter southern section of the security barrier between Walaja and Kfar Batir, which the petitioners claimed will restrict their movements and damage their livelihoods.

One of the last sections of the security barrier to be constructed, it will prevent terrorists infiltrating Jerusalem from the surrounding region, the state said in response.

The state told the court that delays in its construction had left Jerusalem residents vulnerable to terror attacks.

The state presented data to the court showing that 600 attacks took place in Jerusalem since 2000, claiming over 200 lives and injuring 1,600 people.

In 2009 alone, over 920 Palestinians entered the Jerusalem area through the gap left in the southern route of the security barrier.

However, the petitioners, who include representatives of Walaja’s village council, argued that the security barrier will prevent their freedom of movement.

The route chosen for the security barrier would damage Walaja’s old cemetery, an ancient water source in the village, and uproot oak and olive trees, they claimed.

The petitioners also argued that the barrier will “strangle the village from three directions,” preventing it from expanding to the north and cutting villagers off from hundreds of dunams of their agricultural lands in what amounted to a land grab.

The state said that in response to requests from the Walaja villagers, the security barrier’s route had been amended in order to minimize damage to the village spring and cemetery, and also pledged to open two gates along the route that will allow Palestinian villagers to access their agricultural lands for several hours each day.

“The security barrier is designed to block terrorists from Israeli territory, and thus protect the lives of citizens and residents,” wrote Beinisch in her judgement. “However, the barrier is not built in a vacuum and its building involves damage.”

In dismissing the petition, the panel of justices ruled that the amended route of the security barrier will minimize damage to land.

The justices also emphasized that the security barrier will help against the serious security threat posed from the area along the proposed route.

“We are persuaded that the protection afforded to Israeli residents by the security barrier is very great,” wrote Beinisch.

“It is one of the last obstacles standing in the way of terrorists on their way into the city to carry out their murderous plans.”

Palestinian villagers slammed the ruling.

“The Israeli courts usually try to find some kind of compromise but the end result is that the military establishment has the final say,” Walaja resident Mazin Kumsiyeh told Ynet.

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