Volume 73, Number 35 | December 31, 2003 - January 6, 2004

Local photographer hits the wall in the West Bank

Photos by Q Sakamaki

Palestinians looking over the new West Bank security wall, waiting for a chance to sneak through.

East Village photographer Q Sakamaki was in the West Bank in September where he documented the construction of the new security barrier Israel is building. The barrier is intended to protect Israel from suicide bombing attacks by Palestinian militants and to separate Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Moving furniture over the wall.

The Israeli government has been building the wall since June 2002. The first stage of construction has already finished, stretching more than 93 miles. This fall, work started on the second stage. When complete, the total length, including the first section, would stretch 428 miles, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, or a little more than $3.5 million per mile.

A young bicyclist rides by a solidly built section of the barrier.

The security fence looks different in different sections. In some places it is a uniform barrier, in others, more ramshackle, with gaps exposed between roughly arranged concrete blocks.

A woman gestures by a rough-hewn part of the security fence.

The international community opposes the wall, calling it a “land grab” and an effort by Israel to illegally annex its settled areas of the West Bank.

A boy wearing a pendant of a friend whom he said was killed by the Israelis.

Sakamaki, 45, who was profiled in The Villager’s Sept. 3, 2003, issue, sympathizes with the Palestinians whose homes in refugee camps are being bulldozed to make way for the barrier. He also points out that the barricade is making Palestinians’ life harder, forcing them to wait for long periods at checkpoints if unable to sneak through openings when Israeli guards aren’t watching.

“The wall divides the Palestinian community, making the movement of Palestinian people very difficult,” Sakamaki notes. “It’s hard to go to work or school, people with illnesses cannot go to the hospital easily…. In addition, the building of the wall destroys a large amount of the Palestinian farming fields and water resources…. Such Israeli strategy fosters a violent anti-Israel movement. The wall may help fortify Israeli security,” Sakamaki says, “but it may also become a huge obstacle to achieving a lasting peace in the region.”

A youngster turns a cartwheel by a section of the barricade built with prefabricated segments.

Palestinians in a house that had been partially demolished for construction of the wall.


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