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Israel resumes building 'apartheid wall' in West Bank

Participants in the 5th Palestine Marathon run along the contentious separation barrier, which divides the West Bank from Jerusalem al-Quds, in Bethlehem on March 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Israel has resumed constructing its controversial separation wall northwest of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem that is viewed as an embodiment of Tel Aviv's oppression against the Palestinians.

Israeli forces have placed a four-meter-high barbed wire fence in Ein Jwaizeh area to the northwest of al-Walaja village, completely encircling it, Hasan Brijiyeh from the committee against the Apartheid Wall and settlements in Bethlehem, told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa on Saturday. 

“Construction of the barrier in the West Bank gravely violates the rights of Palestinians in the areas affected, restricting their access to their lands, crucial services and relatives on the other side of the barrier. The barrier also prevents any possibility of economic development,” said Israeli rights group B'Tselem on its website.

Israel began building the barrier of walls and fences inside the occupied West Bank back in 2002. Tel Aviv argues that the project is aimed at preventing infiltration into the occupied territories, but Palestinians say the move is yet another violation of their rights and allows for further annexation of their land.

If completed, the barrier will result in the isolation of 9.4 percent of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The International Court of Justice said in an advisory opinion issued in 2004 that the "apartheid wall" violates international law and urged Israel to remove it from the occupied territories.

Israeli forces arrive to disperse Palestinian protesters next to the controversial separation wall near the West Bank city of Ramallah during a demonstration against Israeli settlements on February 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

In another development on Saturday,Tel Aviv announced a closure of the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip ahead of the Israeli holidays of Memorial Day and Independence Day. The closure will last until Tuesday night.  

Tel Aviv has accelerated its land grab and settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian territories after US President Donald Trump took office earlier this year. 

The settlement activities are in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution, which was adopted in December 2016, condemned the settlements as a “flagrant violation of international law."

Earlier this week, Israel’s Housing Ministry said it had been working for two years on the plan to build 25,000 units in Jerusalem al-Quds.

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