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Personal stories of terror victims
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Mothers of terror victims
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Bus No. 19 Suicide Attack
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The Israel Project

The Israel Project works to ensure an accurate portrayal of Israel in the press in order to increase public support of Israel, reduce anti-Semitism and promote pride in Israel and the Jewish people. The Israel Project utilizes state-of-the-art strategic communications techniques, including public opinion research, message formulation, media analysis, public relations, and targeted TV ads to meet these goals.

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Distances between Palestinian cities in the West Bank and major Israeli cities
Israeli Ministry of Defense, 2004.

Suicide attacks and number of people killed in major Israeli cities
Israeli Ministry of Defense, 2004.

Peace Index: July 2003

US opposition notwithstanding, the general Israeli Jewish public today - even more than in the past - is agreed on the fundamental need to erect a separation fence between Israel and the Palestinians. However, this consensus does not extend to the fence contours: a fence which leaves Jewish settlements "outside it" is supported by a far smaller majority; and the number of those supporting the contour placing Palestinian territories "inside" the fence equals the number of those opposing it.

Asked: "In principle, do you support or oppose the building of a fence separating between Israel and the Palestinians?" About 80% of the Israeli-Jewish respondents stated that they were very or fairly supportive, 15% were opposed (5% did not know). Replies were similarly divided when respondents were asked whether, in light of the objections of the US administration, the erection of the fence should be continued or halted: 71% stated that the project should continue, 19% said it should stop, and the remainder did not know. Last month's replies to this question were, respectively, 64%, 23% and 13%. In other words, the impact of US opposition on erecting the fence was weaker in July than in the preceding month.

The high degree of support for the separation fence indicates that the consensus on this issue has cut across political camps. In effect, a comparison between the voters body of the seven major parties shows that each contains a clear majority of some form of support for erecting the fence. Moreover, the differences between the various degrees of support are not graded along the customary right-left axis: Shinui - 87.5% in favor; Labor - 82%; Likud - 80.5%; SHAS and NRP - 70%; National Union - 69%, and Meretz - 63%. These findings hint at the presence of additional and, perhaps, contradictory considerations motivating the Jewish public, beyond the common desire for the erection of a fence, which - as we have shown in previous months - derives from the expectation that it will significantly lessen the risk of terror.

The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC) / Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann

Ambushed “Egged” bus from Eilat to Beer Sheva
Israel Information Center / Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 17, 1954.

Terrorists ambushed a bus traveling form Eilat to Tel Aviv, and opened fire at short range when the bus reached the area of Ma’ale Akrabim in the northern Negev. In the initial ambush, the terrorists killed the driver and wounded most of the passengers. The terrorists then boarded the bus, and shot each passenger, one by one. Eleven passengers were murdered. Survivors recounted how the murderers spat on the bodies and abused them. The terrorists could clearly be traced back to the Jordanian border, some 20 km from the site of the terrorist attack.

Which came first: Terrorism or “Occupation”?
Israel Information Center / Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002.

Suicide bombing of bus no. 14 in the center of Jerusalem
Israel, the Conflict and Peace: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions / Israel Information Center / Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2003.

Suicide bombing of bus no. 19 in Jerusalem, January 29, 2004
Photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

The Reasons behind the Fence

First Priority - Saving Lives
The security fence has only one purpose: to keep the terrorists out and thereby save the lives of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs alike. More than 900 people have been murdered in attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorists since late September 2000. Thousands of Israelis have been injured, many of the victims maimed for life. The terrorists infiltrated Israeli cities and towns and carried out attacks - including suicide bombings - on buses, in restaurants, shopping malls, and even private homes. No other nation in the world has ever faced such an intense wave of terror, especially in the form of suicide bombings.

Palestinian Terror Assault
Over the past three years, Israel has suffered from terrorist attacks on an almost unprecedented scale. Its citizens have had to live with the day-to-day fear of being blown up by suicide bombers or shot to death by Palestinian gunmen. Over 900 Israelis have already lost their lives and many thousands more were maimed or psychologically scarred for life.
The violent confrontation, which has continued uninterrupted since September 2000, is all the more tragic because a peace agreement was so close at hand immediately prior to the outbreak of violence. Had the Palestinian leadership chosen the path of negotiation and compromise at Camp David in the summer of 2000, Israelis and Palestinians would now be living side-by-side in peace.

As a result of the unceasing terror, Israel decided to erect a physical barrier. The absence of such a barrier makes infiltration into Israeli communities a relatively easy task for terrorists. No terrorists have infiltrated from the Gaza Strip into Israel in recent years, because an electronic security fence already exists there.
The Government of Israel has an obligation to defend its citizens against terrorism. This right of self-defense is anchored in international law.

The decision to build the security fence was taken only after other options were tried, but failed to stop the deadly terrorist attacks. Despite its numerous commitments in the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements, as well as in the Roadmap that was presented to the sides in May 2003, the Palestinian Authority has failed to fight terrorism.

Had there been no terrorism, Israel would not have been compelled to build a fence to protect its citizens

The Palestinians must dismantle the terrorist organizations, confiscate weapons, arrest the planners and perpetrators of terrorist acts, stop incitement and resume security cooperation with Israel; all these steps are required by the Roadmap. These measures are imperative for renewing the peace process.

Palestinian ambulance with explosives stopped at roadblock
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The fence makes the difference
Saving Lives: Israel’s Anti-Terrorist Fence, Answers to Questions / Israel Information Center / Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

Peace Index: October 2003

As in the past, there is overwhelming support for the separation fence, with 83% favoring it and only 12% opposing it (5% do not know). On this issue, too, a majority of both right- and left-wing voters is in favor, though to different degrees. Interestingly, the lowest rates of support are among voters for Meretz and for the National Union (60% and 64%, respectively). Presumably, the reasons for the significant opposition to the separation fence among voters of these two parties (35% in Meretz and 27% in the National Union) are different in nature. Support for the fence is also influenced, of course, by considerations of its effectiveness against terror—63% believe that constructing the fence can significantly reduce terror, and another 19% believe that constructing the fence or some other physical barrier can indeed prevent terror. Only 16% think the fence can not prevent or even reduce terror.

Regarding the debate about the route of the fence, we found that a large majority - 63% - favors the view that this route should be determined according to considerations of the Israeli government, whereas only 19% hold the view that the route should follow the Green Line (4% did not respond to this question stating that they oppose the construction of the fence in principle and 14% took no position). As with the sweeping support for constructing the separation fence in principle, on the issue of the route a majority of voters for the large parties favors the view that it should be determined according to considerations of the government, with the exception of Meretz voters, 60% of whom think the fence should follow the Green Line compared to 30% who believe the route should be subject to the government’s considerations.

As in the past, the prevailing view among the Arab public is against the construction of the separation fence: 63% oppose it in principle and only 29% support the endeavor (8% do not know). Almost half of the Arab interviewees (49%) do not believe that a physical means such as the fence can prevent or even significantly reduce the terror attacks; about one-fourth believe the fence will reduce the attacks; and 17% think it can prevent them (10% do not know). As for the route of the fence, the clear preference—44%—is for the view that the route should follow the Green Line, with only 13% saying the route should be determined according to the Israeli government’s considerations (26% did not answer the question because of opposition to the fence in principle, and 17% did not know).

The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC) / Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann

Prototype of the security fence
Israel, the Conflict and Peace: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions / Israel Information Center / Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2003.

Prototype of the security fence

Relevant Israeli Cabinet Decisions

July 2001: First Cabinet approval of a plan to halt infiltration into Israel from the central and northern West Bank

April 14, 2002: Government Decision 64/B on the construction of 80 kilometers of the Barrier in the three areas of the West Bank; Establishment of the Seam Zone Administration

June 23, 2002: Cabinet Decision 2077, approving the first phase of a ‘continuous’ Barrier in parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem

August 14, 2002: Cabinet approval for the final route of the Barrier for Phase A construction

October 1, 2003: Cabinet Decision 883, approving a full Barrier route

Cabinet decision no. 883
HaMoked / Center for the Defence of the Individual, 2003.
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Victims of Palestinian violence and terrorism since September 2000
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

Aerial photograph of the security fence near Zur Igal
Photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

Concept and Guidelines

A Line of Defense - Not a Border
The security fence currently being built between the Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli population centers is a defensive measure. It is designed to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks in Israel. Its path was chosen in accordance with security and topographic considerations, while making every effort to minimize disruption to the daily lives of the local Palestinian population. The security fence does not attempt in any way to mark a future border - an issue reserved for negotiations between the sides. It is also important to note that the security fence area does not annex any land to the State of Israel.

The Route
The route of the Security Fence is based on topography, population density and threat assessment of each section. In the absence of any natural obstacles between Israel and the West Bank, the fence is a continuous land-based obstacle stretching from Beit Shean in the north to Arad in the south. It creates an area that facilitates control through the use of observation systems as well as providing space for pursuit of suspects.
In addition to security considerations, Israel has made every attempt to plan the route so as to avoid any undue hardship to the local population. Every effort has also been made to cause minimal damage to the landscape and flora, which will be restored, as far as possible, once work has been completed. Similarly, the route was changed or rescue excavations were conducted in order to protect archaeological sites.

A Proven Effectiveness
In the absence of any natural or manmade barrier between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terrorists have during the past three years been able to enter Israel almost unhindered to carry out suicide attacks. The security fence existing between Israel and the Gaza Strip since 1996 has proven its effectiveness, and the vast majority of terrorist attempts there have been discovered and thwarted.

The terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria constitutes the principal threat to the heart of Israel. The first stage of the security fence between Israel and the West Bank, which has been operational since July 2003, is already proving itself as an effective defensive deterrent against terror attacks.
Palestinian terrorists intercepted admitted under questioning that the existence of the security fence in the Samaria area blocks their entry into Israel and forces them to seek of other means to carry out terror attacks.

Experience has proven unequivocally that in those areas in which the security fence has been erected, the number of terrorist attacks has been dramatically reduced. The fence is an efficient and non-violent means of self-defense, which has proven itself effective in stemming the wave of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

The Anti-Terrorism Fence [with completed and planned fence, agricultural gates, passages, and terminals]
Survey of Israel / Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.
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“And ultimately, we will build a fence. The route can be discussed, and that is already a different story. But we will build a fence. A fence is necessary, at least to demarcate our ability to defend ourselves.”
Yaakov Peri (Director, General Security Service, 1988-1995)

“The red lines are in fact the borders of the historical State of Israel. We returned to the Green Line in the agreement with Egypt. In Jordan. In Lebanon. The trade-off that the Rabin government and Netanyahu conducted, was also on the Green Line. Therefore, it is clear to me that our borders in Judea and Samaria, and certainly in the Gaza Strip, run along the Green Line. The separation fence is becoming irrelevant. It is a fence that is not a fence, that follows borders that are not borders.”
Carmi Gillon (Director, General Security Service, 1995-1996)

“I am also troubled by the fence, says Shalom. A fence succeeds on two conditions: That no one ever passes in either direction, and that the discipline of those who guard the fence is at the level of the Germans. And that will not happen. Today's fence is creating a political and security reality that will become a problem. Why? Because it creates hatred, it expropriates land, and annexes hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to the State of Israel. This is contrary to our interests, according to which we view the State of Israel as the home of the Jewish people.

The result, says Shalom, is that the fence achieves the exact opposite of what was intended. Instead of creating a reality of separation and maintaining a window of opportunity for "two states for two peoples," a situation has been created where this window of opportunity is gradually closing. The Palestinians are arguing: You wanted two states, and instead you are closing us up in a South African reality. Therefore, the more we support the fence, they lose their dream and hope for an independent Palestinian state.”
Avraham Shalom (Bendor) (Director, General Security Service, 1980-1986)

“The more Palestinian territory that we are annexing by building this fence, the more violence we shall see in the future,” says Ayalon. “Look, what I'm saying, it's not because I love Palestinians. I don't. It's not because I care about Palestinians. I don't. It's only because I care about Israel and the way I understand Israel should be.”

Giving Palestinians hope is a more effective security measure than building a fence. “Unless this hope will be created, we shall not have any security no matter how high will be the wall that we shall build,” says Ayalon.
Ami Ayalon (Director, General Security Service, 1996-2000)

Yedioth Ahronoth, November 14, 2003 /, December 11, 2003.

Effectiveness of the Fence
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2003.

“There is a very sneaky combination here. The army doesn't look at the political side, it insists on saying that this is a security barrier. But it is clear to everyone that this is a political line behind which there is a political outlook. Those, who try and say that the fence doesn't represent a political line, don't know what they're talking about. Don't give me that nonsense. Everyone is playing this double game, and it's convenient for everybody. That is why I am in favor of the fence, obviously it will put us inside.”
David Levy, Head of the Jordan Valley Council / Yedioth Ahronoth, 2003.

Aerial photograph of the security fence running on the Green Line between the Israeli town of Matan and the Palestinian locality of Habla.
Photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

Aerial photograph of the security fence running on the Green Line between the Israeli town of Matan and the Palestinian locality of Habla
Photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

Peace Index: February 2004

Despite the domestic and foreign criticism of the separation fence, the Israeli-Jewish public almost unanimously (84%) supports it (13% oppose it and 3% do not know). Although only 16.5% think that the fence and the other physical means of partition can completely prevent terror attacks, 70% believe such means can significantly reduce the number of attacks. The wide public support for the fence crosses the political parties. But whereas among Shinui, Likud, and Labor voters it is almost total (about 90%), among voters for the National Union, Mafdal (the National Religious Party), Shas, and Meretz it is lower (about 60%-70%).

About two-thirds of the Jewish public believe the route of the fence should be determined according to security considerations of the government, and only a 20% minority favor the idea that it should run along the Green Line. On this issue, Meretz voters stand out in expressing the minority view: 70% of them favor the Green Line as the route of the fence (compared to 40% of Labor voters, 31% of Shinui voters, 21% of Shas voters, 13% of Mafdal voters, and 11% of Likud voters, and 0% of National Union voters).

The Jewish public’s adamancy on the issue of the fence is manifested in a low level of consideration for the suffering caused to the Palestinian population, such as harm to its ability to cultivate lands and difficulties in moving from place to place within West Bank territory. Thus, only 31% believe this suffering should be taken into account in determining the route of the fence, compared to 64% who see it is a secondary if not negligible consideration. Not surprisingly, here too a large majority of Meretz voters hold the minority view, 88% of them saying that Palestinian suffering should be taken into account in determining the route. Labor voters are almost split on this question, with 52% saying the suffering should be taken into account while 42% regard it is a secondary consideration. Among Shinui voters the proportions are similar but in reverse: a small majority of 54.5% view the suffering as a secondary or negligible consideration compared to 43% who see it as significant or important in determining the route. However, among Mafdal, Shas, and Likud voters an overwhelming majority—80%, 79%, and 75%, respectively—believe the Palestinian suffering should not be an important consideration in determining the route.

The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC) / Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Dr. Tamar Hermann

Humanitarian Aspects

Impact on Israelis
The Most Basic Human Right is Life Itself –Terrorism is a Human Rights Violation and constitutes a Crime against Humanity

Over 900 Israelis – men, women, and children – have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the last three years; thousands have been injured in these attacks. The terrorist organizations have threatened to carry out additional acts of terrorism in the future, and the Palestinian Authority continues to refrain from taking those steps that it is required to take under the Roadmap to end terrorism. Israel cannot be expected to accept murderous attacks upon its citizens. The right to self-defense cannot be regarded as a mere phrase and the right to life is the most fundamental of human rights: It must be protected. By erecting a physical barrier to block terrorist infiltrations, Israel is preventing the Palestinian terrorists from killing and maiming Israeli citizens. Hundreds of innocent lives will be spared. What other realistic alternative is there in the absence of Palestinian action against terrorism?

Impact on Palestinians
In addition to its efforts to ensure the security of its citizens, Israel attaches considerable importance to the interests of the local Palestinian residents. Israel recognizes the necessity of finding an appropriate balance between the imperative need to prevent terrorism and defend its citizens, and the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians. Most Palestinians will be on the eastern side of the fence. They will not be cut off from their commercial and urban centers. No Palestinians will have to relocate. Israel will make every effort to avoid causing hardship and interference with their daily lives. Dozens of crossing points have been set up to enable the movement of people and goods. The security fence was located, to the greatest possible degree, on unused land to avoid harming agriculture. Palestinian farmers will have access to their fields and will reach them through special gates that are being built into the fence. Trees affected by the construction will be replanted.

Israel has made the use of public lands a priority in building the security fence, in order to avoid, as much as possible, the use of private lands. If this is not possible, then private land is requisitioned, not confiscated, and it remains the property of the owner. Legal procedures allow every owner to file an objection to the use of their land. When private lands are used, owners are offered full compensation, in accordance with the law; this compensation is offered both as a lump sum and also on a monthly basis.

Aerial photograph of the security fence between Bat Hefer and Tulkarm district
Photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2004.

Legal Aspects

The Right to Self Defense
The security fence is a measure taken to save lives, not to annex territory. Israel’s Supreme Court has already determined that, in the context of self-defense, Israel is entitled to employ a variety of measures in order to prevent and deter potential terrorists from carrying out their attacks. The security fence is one of these preventative measures. The decision to establish the security fence area was taken only after other options were tried and failed to stop the Palestinian terrorism, which presents an imminent threat to the lives of Israel's citizens.

The Supreme Court has already dealt with a number of appeals regarding the security fence area and has approved the grounds necessitating construction of the fence area, including the balance of interests applied (i.e.: property interests vs. security interests.)

It is important to note that the security area does not annex territories to the State of Israel. It does not change the status of these territories, their ownership, or the status of the residents of these areas. The security fence does not attempt in any way to mark a future border.

A Palestinian-Initiated Armed Conflict
Since the Palestinian-initiated violence began in September 2000, an armed conflict has existed in the region. Under International Humanitarian Law, Israel has the authority to seize private land, when the seizure is "imperatively demanded" by the necessities of war (Article 23(G) of the 1907 Hague regulations which set the basic rules of the Laws of Armed Combat.)
Israel also has the authority to seize property, in accordance with the Laws of Armed Combat, in situations when the military aim is to protect the lives of both the citizens of the State of Israel and the Palestinian residents of the West Bank.

Legal Status of the Land
The West Bank and Gaza Strip are disputed territories whose status can only be determined through negotiations. Occupied territories are territories captured in war from an established and recognized sovereign.

As the West Bank and Gaza Strip were not under the legitimate and recognized sovereignty of any state prior to the Six Day War, they should not be considered occupied territories.

The people of Israel have ancient ties to the territories, as well as a continuous centuries-old presence there. These areas were the cradle of Jewish civilization. Israel has rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, rights that the Palestinians deliberately disregard.


The fence, wherever it will go, not only divides the country, it divides right and left and camps inside both the right and the left.

Labor MK Haim Ramon was one of the first Israeli politicians to talk openly about a fence, plans to run for prime minister on a platform calling for a fence, but he wants the construction to include evacuation of most of the settlements in order to reach something along the lines of former U.S. president Bill Clinton's plan.

Likud MK Michael Eitan’s concept of separation includes two fences - one around the Palestinian Authority areas and another on the Green Line, that would divide the Palestinian areas into five separate cantons. Eitan doesn't want any settlements evacuated - except perhaps a few very isolated ones.

But “fence,” too, has more than one meaning. There’s a “security fence,” which Ben-Eliezer insists is what he's building, while those like the Yesha Council of Settlements regard it as a political fence, to which they are adamantly opposed. And then there's the “political fence,” as Yossi Beilin refers to it, meaning domestic partisan politics in the sense that some want to find electoral gains by supporting what otherwise is not only a huge waste of money in his eyes, but also damaging to any peace process.

The peace camp has a particularly complex attitude toward the fence. Meretz MK Yossi Sarid, chairman of his party, which is a core element in the Peace Coalition, yesterday attacked the fence under construction, calling it “the defense minister’s fence against Haim Ramon.”

He said any fence that does not follow the 1967 lines and does not include evacuating settlements, only will endanger Israel.
Lily Galili in Haaretz, June 18, 2002.


“The biggest challenge is to draw a line that will protect on the Jewish majority: the best border is the one that will include the maximum member of Israelis and the minimum number of Palestinian inhabitants.”
Yuli Tamir, MK


Another member of the Yesha Council, Elyakim Ha'etzni supports a fence “both in order to prevent the establishment of a border along the planned fence on the Green Line, and also because of the unfounded operational logic of the fence along the Green Line… The secure area between the homes on the extreme edge of the towns and villages along the Green Line needs to be a kilometer [deep] and not several hundred meters, otherwise there is insufficient warning time from the moment terrorists cross the fence… The left supports the fence for a single reason - the destruction of the Jewish settlement activity in Yesha… This is the miracle solution of the left and this idea belongs to the realm of psycho-pathology.”

The reasons for a fence are the based on the physical security of Israelis in the territories and inside the Green Line: “My friends and I are not willing to bear, on our conscience, a single Jewish dead because there was no fence.”
Haaretz, January 17, 2003.


“The barrier project is ‘an embodiment of the Israeli dilemma.’ It expresses the ‘idea of a two-state solution,’ yet implies the failure of the Israeli left's historic desire to end the occupation through negotiation. ‘'It‘s the cutting apart of Siamese twins – by one twin, to save himself,’ At the same time, ‘it reflects the bankruptcy of the right's idea that the Palestinians can be defeated by force.’ The barrier contains an unintended architectural allusion to ghetto walls. In the long run, it ‘will make bad neighbors… It takes terror and projects it on the future’ as a permanent condition. As ‘political installation art,’ the fence expresses fear and broken dreams.”
Yaron Ezrahi, 2003.


“[…] The fence would stop the symbiosis of violence, that of occupier and occupied … Once separated, compromise is possible.

“[…] Those who make the point that if a fence is being built, then it should be on the Green Line, make it a political and not a security question. The fence can always be moved.”
Yossi Mendellevich [bereaved father]
Public Council for a Security Fence for Israel

The Anti-Terrorist Fence
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It’s the Terror, STUPID
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