Israel builds new stretch of barrier along southern West Bank
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Israel builds new stretch of barrier along southern West Bank

Defense ministry says another 42-kilometer section of security barrier completed

Israeli machines and workers build parts of the Israeli security barrier near the West Bank city of Beit Jala, outside Jerusalem, on April 17, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)
Israeli machines and workers build parts of the Israeli security barrier near the West Bank city of Beit Jala, outside Jerusalem, on April 17, 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

The Defense Ministry said Wednesday it had completed a further 42-kilometer (26-mile) stretch of its West Bank security barrier.

“The Defense Ministry this morning installed the final concrete walls, completing a 42-kilometer wall between Tarkumia and Meitar,” it said in a statement, referring to the Palestinian village of Tarkumia, northwest of Hebron, and an Israeli crossing adjacent to the settlement of Meitar, further south.

It did not say how much of the planned 712-kilometer network of towering concrete walls, barbed-wire fences, trenches and closed military roads was now complete.

A ministry spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for the information.

Based on UN figures published before Wednesday’s announcement, about 214 kilometers remains to be built.

Israel says the barrier, which it began building amid a wave of Palestinian terror attacks in 2002, is crucial for its security. Israel was battered by an onslaught of Palestinian suicide bombers, who killed hundreds of Israelis, in a stream of attacks from late 2000 to 2003. Palestinians see the barrier as a land grab of territory they want for a future state.

Much of the barrier cuts into the West Bank, taking in about 7% of West Bank territory. Israel’s Supreme Court has accepted a series of petitions reducing the amount of West Bank territory on the western side of the barrier from around 14%.

In a non-binding decision, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that construction of the barrier was illegal and, like the UN General Assembly, demanded it be dismantled.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last March ordered that a gap in the barrier in the Tarkumia area be closed as a priority after a spike of Palestinian attacks inside Israel

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