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Construction of Gush Etzion Wall to Begin in Coming Days

As word of the impending construction of the Gush Etzion Partition Wall was leaked to local residents, activists have declared an end to negotiations and issued a call to action.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 12/6/2005, 8:06 AM / Last Update: 12/5/2005, 2:22 PM


The director of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel’s Kfar Etzion Field School, Yaron Rosenthal, sent out an email to all of Gush Etzion’s local community lists Sunday night, frantically informing his fellow citizens that the moment of truth regarding the Partition Wall set to encircle the region is now on their doorsteps.

Work on the wall surrounding Gush Etzion is set to begin at the Abu Suda Forest, located between the community of Migdal Oz and the Gush Etzion Junction. The reason the Defense Ministry chose to begin there is that the land is demarcated as a nature preserve, and there is no concern that Arabs will be able to file appeals with the Supreme Court.

The fact that building will begin this week violates an agreement between Gush Etzion’s local municipalities and the Defense Ministry whereby construction would not be started until an agreement on the route is reached. Rosenthal said that the reason the ministry is so eager to begin construction is that it knows the current route will not hold up in the Supreme Court – which will ensure that the fence route shrink-wraps the communities of Gush Etzion. The Defense Ministry wants to be able to deflect blame for the latter route.

Rosenthal’s source also said that during a briefing held in the Ministry of Defense, considerable fear was raised of the possibility of opposition to the fence by the residents of the Gush.

“Our only option now is to lie under the tractors and show plainly to our fellow citizens that we are being imprisoned within a fence,” Rosenthal said. “At least the powers that be cannot take credit for a fence being built to include Gush Etzion and will thus lose points with the public.”

In the meantime, Rosenthal plans on filing a Supreme Court petition on behalf of the Kfar Etzion Field School against the building of the Partition Wall in the middle of a nature preserve. “As the director of the field school, it is most important to me that nature be preserved in the Land of Israel so that the public is able to hike in the preserve.”

To those in Gush Etzion who were hoping the construction of the eastern fence will lead to an increased assertion of Israeli sovereignty in the area, per Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s claim regarding “settlement blocs,” Rosenthal reports a pessimistic assessment passed on to him by the ministry source.

“The planning authorities in the Ministry of Defense have concluded their work along the Green Line, preparing the ground for a quick construction of a fence along the 1967 borders,” Rosenthal said. “So as not to arouse the residents of the Gush, it was decided to first implement the eastern fence (around the Gush) and, only after the elections, to build the fence on the Green Line.”

Rosenthal, in his emergency email, quoted the source directly: "The decision to build an additional fence on the Green Line has already been taken, with tens of thousands of shekels already invested in planning, and with instructions being not to disclose the actual building of the fence on the Green Line until after the elections."

Rosenthal told Arutz-7 that he is serious about his call for residents of all ages to come out and physically lie before the bulldozers. He says that the current fence route, let alone the one that will be dictated by the Supreme Court, “turns Gush Etzion into a ghetto, into Gush Katif 2 and turns the road to Jerusalem into the Kissufim Crossing.

Flyers have been printed up and posted around Gush Etzion in English and Hebrew, reading: “Your Home is in Danger! But it Can be Saved!” with details on cells of activists in each community prepared to struggle against the wall. Nadia Matar of Women in Green, an Efrat resident, spoke with Israel National Radio’s Yishai Fleisher and Alex Traiman Show, outlining the plan of action. Matar mentioned that one of the reasons she believes Gush Etzion will be the site of a determined struggle against the wall, as opposed to communities in the Shomron, is due to its high concentration of olim (immigrants). "The activists, in general, are those people who came on Aliyah - from France or Belgium or the US. The people who attend activit=st meetings are those who came on Aliyah - even decades ago - and who still have a fire in their heart."

Click here to listen to the interview

Though Matar is regularly heard calling the public to action, the call to "lay beneathe the tractors" issued by Rosenthal and the rest of the members of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion is aimed at waking up those who usually stay home and let the youth handle the protest activities. “It is very important that the television screens not show only youth with orange t-shirts demonstrating against the fence,” Rosenthal said. “When the time comes (it may be very soon) let's show up in large numbers to save the Gush from the suffocating fence.”