Israel & International Law: The West Bank Wall
For more on Israel's violations of international law, see our fact sheets on Israel's illegal settlements and the siege and blockade of Gaza.
Israel’s West Bank Wall
- In June 2002, under the pretext of security, the Israeli government began unilaterally constructing a wall to separate Palestinians in the occupied West Bank from Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, and from Israeli settlements built inside the West Bank. (Since 1994, the Gaza Strip has been surrounded by an Israeli wall that cuts off the 1.8 million Palestinians living there from the rest of the world.)
- In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion deeming the wall illegal because most of it is built on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank, rather than along Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 War border with the West Bank. The court called for the wall to be dismantled and for Israel to compensate Palestinians harmed by its construction.
- Approximately 85% of the wall will be built not along Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 border, but on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank. As a result, approximately 10% of the West Bank will end up on the western, or Israeli side of the wall.
- Once completed, the length of the wall is projected to be between 420 and 440 miles long (according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, respectively). This is more than twice the length of Israel’s border with the West Bank, as the wall snakes deep inside the West Bank to encompass many Israeli settlements on the western side.
- When finished, the wall, along with Israeli settlements, Israeli-only highways, closed military zones, and “nature reserves” are projected to cover 46% of the occupied West Bank, effectively annexing it to Israel.
- Critics have accused Israeli authorities of designing the wall’s route to envelop as much Palestinian land and as many Israeli settlements as possible on the western, or Israeli side, while placing as many Palestinians as possible on the eastern side. In total, about 85% of the Israeli settler population is expected to end up on the western side of the wall.
- The wall also surrounds occupied East Jerusalem, cutting its more than 200,000 Palestinian residents off from the rest of the occupied West Bank, and vice versa. In some areas, the wall cuts directly through neighborhoods, separating Palestinians from their property, relatives, jobs, schools, medical facilities, and holy places.
See here for the 2014 United Nations map of the wall.