West Bank Wall

West Bank Wall

Israeli Soldiers Nativity Church
West Bank Wall

West Bank Wall - Israel

There was a debate over whether the West Bank Wall in Israel is a "fence" or a "wall." I visited the Berlin Wall both before and after it fell in 1989. The West Bank Wall in Israel is 2-3 times taller and thicker than the Berlin Wall. And unlike the Berlin Wall, which was simply placed on the ground on triangular bases, the Israeli West Bank Wall is imbedded in poured cement foundation and has built-in guard towers like the one above, therefore appeared more permanent than its German counterpart.

However, the West Bank Wall, which effectively walls off the Israeli occupied West Bank from the rest of Israel, is a wall only on the most strategic 10% of its 450 mile length (above is the West Bank Wall at the Bethlehem check point). The rest of "wall" is actually a fence running alongside a trench that is wide enough to stop trucks from being driven through the fence.

Israel cited the need to prevent West Bank Palestinian suicide bombers from crossing into Israel as the reason for building the wall, which has served the stated purpose, as the number of suicide bombing attacks has plummeted.

But instead of running along natural and political demarcations, the wall also runs through Palestinian towns and villages, isolating them, separating neighbors and even people from their meager vegetable gardens. Why?

In Jerusalem, I met an American aid worker who explained that life was tough and being made tougher for the Palestinians by design. Israel wants them to emigrate and free up land for more Jewish settlements, hence the indiscriminate route of the wall, Palestinian commuters to Israel being made to queue at checkpoints at 2 AM in order to enter Israel by 8 AM, etc.

She also said there is a political effort to block Christian evangelization of the Palestinians. Why? American Christians today accept the oppression of Palestinians, but that could change if significant numbers of Palestinians were to become Christian (see Palestinian Christians and Evangelizing Israel).

Israeli SettlementDespite their fortress-like appearance, Jewish settlements like this one near the Bethlehem checkpoint provide homes with modern comforts to its Jewish residents. Also near Bethlehem is a refugee camp for the displaced Palestinians, who live in conditions far inferior. Palestinian refugee camps are in fact are the most densely populated places in the world.

To whom does the land belong?

The Bible makes it clear that God gave all of the land to Israel - "From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory." (Joshua 2:4) - and commanded Israel to clear the land, which had been genetically and spiritually ruined by such abominations as bestiality and child sacrifices.

But when Israel disobeyed God, preferring to instead of use its inhabitants as slave laborers, God told Israel that He "will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side":

And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out. Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; so the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and were put under tribute. Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. So the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out. Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath; but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them. And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley; and the Amorites were determined to dwell in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim; yet when the strength of the house of Joseph became greater, they were put under tribute. Now the boundary of the Amorites was from the Ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela, and upward. Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. (Judges 1:28-2:4)

And God forbade the Jews from mistreating non-Jews, whom they were to love as themselves:

"And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Travel Tip
Taxi drivers in Jerusalem will try to sell you a round trip to Bethlehem, which is only 7 kilometers from Jerusalem but still past the wall above, for 200-250 shekels, or 40-70 shekels for one-way to the Bethlehem checkpoint that is just before the wall. Decline both, as you can take the air-conditioned minibus from the Damascus Gate to the Bethlehem checkpoint for 3 shekels each way. You will need to show your passport to the Israeli soldiers manning the Bethlehem checkpoint, and from there, walk a short distance past the wall, and then take a dilapidated Palestinian taxi to Bethlehem. While the fare can be negotiated down, a generous fare/tip most likely will have an impact on the dinner of your driver's family that evening. You don't have to look far to see hardship. My driver was emaciated and looked 60 but turned out to be 39.

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