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  Article published in "El Mundo", Spain
    -  January 18, 2004.

Neither wall nor shame. 
By Víctor Harel
Ambassador of Israel in Spain

Diagram of the security fence
Image Courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel
© All Rights Reserved

The Spanish media, in their majority, have adopted the degrading denomination of "Wall of the Shame" to designate the security fence that Israel is currently building. 

Considering the fragmentation of data, the half-truths and the distortion that the subject has undergone, I believe it is essential to clarify certain key points to understand the reason for building that fence. 

The main responsible for the construction of the fence is the terrorism; without terror we had not been ourselves forced to build the fence. When there is no more terrorism, there will be no more fence either. 

From the month of September, 2000, 845 Israeli citizens have been assassinated by terrorists. There is not a single government in the
world that can contemplate and cross their arms to the systematic destruction of its women, children and elderly. There is not a single government who does not adopt firm actions to end the suicidal terrorism. It is not only the fundamental right to the self-defense, but also a duty; a duty of survival, and this includes to construct a defense system for the most bled country in the world due to the Islamic terrorism.

The accumulated experience from the beginning of the construction of the fence in the West Bank demonstrates with reliable numbers that when the construction of the fence built in the region of Samaria was finished, the number of terrorist attacks coming from that zone have diminished considerably, increasing at the same time the attacks coming from Judea, in which the construction has still not been finished. 

The attacks of suicidal terrorists in buses - in Jerusalem: number 6 line, during May 2003; number 14 line, during June 2003; and number 2 line, during August 2003; and in Haifa: number 37 line, during September 2003 - all of them originated in Judea, and those individuals never found in their criminal way neither a fence, nor a physical stumbling block. 79 Israelis died in those attacks.

In the Gaza Strip, in which a security fence has been existing for years, not a single Palestinian has managed to commit its acts of terror beyond the point of crossing with Israel. 

The fence is indeed a physical obstacle that prevents the infiltration of terrorists as well as arms and explosives; an essential system, exclusively for defense, which only purpose is to provide the Israeli citizens with security. 

Out of the projected 720 kilometers in length, 95% constitutes of an electronic system of wire fences and sensors, pretty similar to which Spain constructed in Ceuta and Melilla. Only a 5% of the fence is made of a cement wall. Therefore we insist on which the most suitable name for it is the one of "fence" and not the one of "wall", that obviously brings to mind erroneous comparisons with the Wall of Berlin or (How far the insensitiveness will go!) with the Nazi wall of the ghetto of Warsaw. It's 40 meters wide, similar to a four-lane highway, with a detection system in the middle.

What isn't the fence purpose? Its purpose is not in any case for annexing territories or of changing their status. It isn't there to create any political implications since it does not establish the demarcation of a border between Israel and the future Palestinian State, which eventually will have to be determined by negotiations between both parts. 

Its purpose is absolutely not to isolate the neighboring residents of the Palestinian population. 

The wall is a fence and there is nothing shameful about it. Since when exerting the self-defense right is shameful? Yes there is urgent need for bridges in our region but, unfortunately as long as there's terrorism, also there is need of security fences. Perhaps it will be indeed the fence, when security increases and terrorist acts diminish, the one that grants the necessary calm and stability to the region, creating the suitable climate that allows the renewal of the dialogue we yearned for. 

Víctor Harel is the Israeli ambassador in Spain. He was also David Diego's boss at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel.

Article, © 2004 All Rights Reserved.  © Mundinteractivos, S.A.


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