Amnesty says Israel should tear down wall

LONDON (Reuters) — The wall Israel is building to separate itself from the Palestinian territory is illegal, has caused deaths and suffering among Palestinians and should be torn down, rights group Amnesty International said on Sunday.

The wall that already stretches for 220 miles — and is planned to cover 450 miles when it is finished —  also risks prolonging, rather than ending the conflict, Amnesty said in a report on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War.

“Israel’s… legitimate security concerns are no excuse for blatant violations of international law, nor the mistreatment of thousands of Palestinians in a massive programme of collective punishment,” Amnesty’s UK Director Kate Allen said. “The Palestinian economy has virtually collapsed under the weight of harsh restrictions by Israel… This has only fuelled despair and poverty among a young and increasingly radicalised Palestinian population.” The report, “Enduring Occupation — Palestinians under siege in the West Bank,” also attacked Israel’s policy of mobile checkpoints which it said had directly caused deaths by imposing unnecessary delays on people trying to get to hospital. “Contrary to official claims about Israel’s overall security needs, the checkpoints and restricted West Bank roads appear to exist mainly for the benefit of Israel’s settlements — settlements that are themselves illegal,” Allen said.

The 50-page report says the wall has deliberately been built to seize Palestinian land amounting to 10 per cent of the West Bank in what it describes as a state-sponsored landgrab. Palestinian homes are being bulldozed and Israeli settlements on Palestinian land — judged illegal by the United Nations Security Council — are in effect being sanctioned as the wall is diverted around them, the report said.

It catalogued a series of ill or injured people who it said had died as a result of delays passing through the wall’s 550 checkpoints or mobile checkpoints or who had been shot dead by Israeli security forces manning watchtowers on the barrier.

It noted the 100-kilometre journey from Hebron in the south of the West Bank to Nablus in the north took less than two hours for Israeli settlers but could take most of a day or was not possible at all for Palestinians.

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