Israel says it has completed the construction of part of its controversial separation wall near the Palestinian city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the southern West Bank.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Israeli Ministry of Military Affairs announced that it had “installed the final concrete walls, completing a 42-kilometer wall between [the Palestinian village of] Tarkumia and Meitar [crossing].”
Israeli Minister of Military Affairs Avigdor Liberman claimed that "the completion of the wall in the southern Hebron hills is another step in … efforts to significantly increase the security of residents of the area.”
Israel began building the 712-kilometer barrier of towering concrete walls, barbed-wire fences, trenches and closed military roads 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).
According to the UN figures published before Wednesday’s announcement, some 214 kilometers of the wall remains to be erected.
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.
About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The continued expansion of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.
In recent month, Tel Aviv has stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied lands in a blatant violation of international law and in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.
The resolution, which was passed last December, states that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, “had no legal validity” and urges the regime to immediately and completely cease all its settlement activities.