Top UN official slams W. Bank barrier

Israel must "dismantle the wall," "make reparations," charges UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Pillay UN rights gaza 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Pillay UN rights gaza 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said Wednesday that Israel must tear down the West Bank security barrier, marking five years since the International Court of Justice declared the barrier illegal and a violation of Palestinian rights. Palestinians charge the complex of walls, trenches, barbed wire and electronic sensors, which were built to stop a wave of deadly Palestinian suicide bombings, is a land grab that cuts people off from their property and basic services. Israel did not recognize the 2004 ruling against the barrier by the International Court of Justice, an advisory opinion with no enforcement mechanism. The barrier is about two-thirds completed. The southern section, near sparsely populated areas on both sides of the line, has not been constructed. The Supreme Court has forced rerouting of several segments closer to the Israel-West Bank line. At a news conference in Jerusalem to mark the anniversary, the UN released a statement concluding that the completed barrier would close in 35,000 Palestinians and wall off another 125,000 on three sides. Pillay went on to say that the barrier is only part of the problem. "The wall is but one element of the wider system of severe restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian residents of the West Bank," she said. Israeli must "dismantle the wall" and "make reparations for all damage suffered by all persons affected by the wall's construction," she said. The Foreign Ministry had no response to the UN statement, which added that the body would release a full report on the humanitarian impact of the barrier later this month.