In The New York Review of Books, Edward Sheehan reminds us of one reason that Palestinians are a bit cranky: Israel is building a security fence around the West Bank that effectively appropriates land while isolating Palestinians.
Near Qalqilya the fence deviates from the green line [the internationally recognized border between Israel and the West Bank] to protect the Jewish settlements of Zufin, Alfe Menashe, and Oranit, in effect incorporating them into Israel proper while isolating the Arab villages of Jayus, Ras Atiya, Daba, Ras Tireh, and Habla and cutting them off from their farmlands.
The mayor of Qalqilya told me that thousands of his people have fled abroad in search of work, and that thousands more have become "internal refugees" chased from their land and reduced to penury. "Fifteen aquifer wells in the area of Qalqilya have been taken by the Israelis, who have diverted the waters for their own use," the mayor said. "This destroys our agriculture and our source of income. Qalqilya is being choked to death." Western aid officials in the West Bank told me that the Israelis are working twenty-four hours a day to complete the fence, apparently intending it to form a new border of the West Bank before peace negotiations get underway.
As Jonathan Cook wrote recently in the International Herald Tribune,
Little attention has focused on this wall, mainly because it is assumed it follows the Green Line.... But Sharon admitted in a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that the wall will be at least 1,000 kilometers long (625 miles), whereas the Green Line is only 360 kilometers long.
Why does it need to be so long? Because Sharon is less interested in preventing suicide bombers than in creating a tiny de facto Palestinian state before the road map forces a bigger one on him.
Palestinians call the fence the "apartheid wall." Gideon Levy, writing in Ha'aretz, describes the effect of the wall on one village:
During the first week of September, the farmers discovered papers scattered about in their fields: They were the expropriation orders. A map was enclosed, too. Khaled [a hydrologist and activist] says that from the papers and the map that they received, it turns out that the width of the fence will be 55-58 meters, and that 292 dunams [about 75 acres], along 4,100 meters, will be expropriated from the village. "Afterward we discovered that 600 dunams will be requisitioned along 6,000 meters," said Khaled....
"These are not barren lands, these are cultivated lands," he emphasizes. There are 120 hothouses, each one producing 35 tons of tomatoes (or cucumbers) a year. Seven wells, which the residents of the village share, have also remained beyond the wall. Seven-hundred dunams [175 acres] of orchards and 500 dunams [125 acres] of fruits and vegetables and 3,000 dunams of olives and the rest are grazing lands....
The hydrologist explains: "There are 65,000 days of work for this community [Jiyus] to be found beyond the wall." And what will happen in the summer, he asked, to those whose water is in wells on the other side?
"If these fields aren't irrigated, there will be an environmental catastrophe. In any case, six of the seven paths to the village fields had already been blocked by the Israel Defense Forces - even before the advent of the fence. Even now it takes two hours in each direction to reach the plots, and the whole day is wasted on how to reach the field and to return. The cultivation of the land is a family project. What will happen if they impose a tax on us for crossing over? ..."
Ran HaCohen, writing for Palestinechronicle.com, tells similar stories; on view at the link is a map meant to show just how much land the wall will exclude from Palestinian control:
Leaving the lion's share of the West Bank outside the Wall in Israeli hands, even what looks like two contiguous Bantustans are in fact crisscrossed by chains of Israeli settlements and roads-for-Jews-only.
None of this justifies terrorism -- but it certainly justifies anger.