OPT: Israel continues to build illegal wall in defiance of ICJ ruling

[RAMALLAH, 9 July 2008] - On the 4th anniversary of the landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found that Israel's construction of the Wall in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem is illegal under international law, DCI/PS exposes the harmful impact of the Wall and its associated regime on the rights of Palestinian children and is challenging Israel's continued construction of the Wall in total disregard of the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion.

Today, the Israeli High Court will hand down its decision in the petition brought by DCI/PS and Al Haq on behalf of the residents of the West Bank village of Al-Nu'man. The majority of the residents of Al-Nu'man have West Bank IDs but have been cut off from the West Bank by the Wall which surrounds them on three sides and illegally incorporates the village into the Jerusalem municipality. The villagers are prohibited from visiting Jerusalem with West Bank IDs and in order to visit the West Bank must pass through a permanent military checkpoint in the Wall. No one other than the residents of the village are allowed through the checkpoint, even to visit for a few hours.

Movement of goods and people is severely restricted by the Wall and impedes the right of Palestinians to travel, work, access health and education services and visit family members and friends. The children of Al-Numan village, among others, are frequently harassed, searched and delayed at checkpoints causing fear, frustration and the loss of many school hours..

' Through the construction of the Wall in the West Bank, Israel has confiscated vast amounts of privately owned Palestinian land and impoverished scores of families by depriving them of their assets and livelihoods. Israel has imposed severe restrictions on pupils and teachers accessing their schools and created significant and sometimes life-threatening restrictions on children's access to healthcare', said George Abu Al Zulof, DCI/PS General Director.

John Dugard the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on the oPt, in his final report to the Human Rights Council stated: 'The Wall that Israel is at present building, largely in Palestinian territory, is clearly illegal'. He concluded his statement on the Wall by commenting:

'The International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the construction of the wall found that it is contrary to international law and that Israel is under an obligation to discontinue construction of the Wall and to dismantle forthwith those sections that have already been built'.

The ICJ further ruled on the obligation of other States 'not to recognise the illegal situation' created by the construction of the Wall.

The continued existence of the Wall and its associated regime four years after the ICJ ruling demonstrate once again Israel's apparent contempt for its obligations under international law and the international community's lack of commitment to the impartial respect and enforcement of Israel's international legal obligations.

Today, exactly four years after the ruling, DCI/PS again calls on the international community to demand that Israel immediately halts further construction of the Wall and dismantles the parts of the Wall illegally built in the oPt. DCI/PS further calls on the international community to oppose the Wall along with the settlements as a fundamental violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and an impediment to peace.