Israel reinforces barrier with 45km concrete wall to stop Palestinians crossing

Nine-metre-tall wall will replace fencing installed 20 years ago and condemned by the UN and Palestinian Authority

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Israel has started building a 45-kilometre concrete wall to reinforce a barrier separating the country from the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence announced on Wednesday that work had begun on a stretch of wall to replace fencing installed 20 years ago.

It said the wall would be nine metres tall, with “additional technological means”.

It will stretch from the Arab village of Salem to the north of the Palestinian city of Tulkarm and will be completed next year.

Twenty years ago, Israel began building the separation wall on West Bank lands to prevent Palestinians from crossing into the country. The move was condemned by the Palestinian Authority and the UN.

Construction on this section, carried out by the ministry's department of engineering and the military, has begun months after a series of attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinians from the area. Months of military raids by Israeli forces followed.

Thousands of Palestinians cross into Israel from the West Bank illegally through holes in the barrier, much of which is a towering wall but is also made up of fences prone to being damaged. Many work as day labourers and earn salaries much higher than those in the West Bank.

On June 19, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man after the Israeli military said he tried to cross the barrier illegally.

The military said soldiers saw the man “sabotaging” the fence outside Qalqilya in the West Bank and “attempting to illegally cross into Israeli territory”.

Forces opened fire in an attempt to stop him and shot him, it said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces killed the man, identified as Nabil Ghanem from Nablus in the West Bank, near the barrier. He was 53, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Updated: June 23, 2022, 11:45 AM
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