Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

A decade of The Wall

Just over ten years ago, I remember rumours going round about a wall that the Israeli state was planning to build. It would go around the entire West Bank, the rumour went, enclosing Palestinian towns and villages and chopping out great gobs of land to give to the settlements. People were greeting the idea with disbelief: it was too big, too unimaginable. A wall around Gaza, as had been there for years, perhaps, but they couldn’t wall off the whole West Bank.

Could they?

Damn right they could. Just a few months later, heading back to Palestine, a serveece dumped me somewhere in the vicinity of the Green Line, somewhere between Tulkarm and Qalqiliya. A vast swathe of destroyed countryside met my eyes, and those of a distraught elderly Palestinian couple, returning from medical treatment in Jordan. The route of the wall was already marked out in bulldozed farmland and huge concrete blocks. An arrogant young Israeli soldier took a quarter hour to finish a call on his mobile phone, then refused to let me through the checkpoint to help the old people with their bags.

Now, of course, the Separation Wall, the Apartheid Wall, or – as the Israelis insist on calling it, the ‘Fence’, looks like this:

There is an interesting series of writings about the tenth anniversary of the Separation Wall on the dissident Israeli magazine-blog 972, and a Bethlehem-based project to document the resistance art on the Wall here.

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