International Court Apartheid Wall OCHA

In summer 2002, following a campaign of suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, the Government of Israel approved construction of a Barrier with the stated purpose of preventing Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel.1 On 9 July 2004, with approximately 200 kilometres of the Barrier constructed, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, issued an Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The opinion recognised that Israel ‘has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens [but] the measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.’2

In analysing the Barrier route, the ICJ stated that the sections which ran inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, together with the associated gate and permit regime, violated Israel’s obligations under international law. The ICJ called on Israel to: cease construction of the Barrier ‘including in and around East Jerusalem’; dismantle the sections already completed; and ‘repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto.’3

The ICJ also called on Israel to ‘make reparations’ for the ‘requisition and destruction of homes, businesses and agricultural holdings’ and ‘to return the land, orchards, olive groves, and other immovable property seized.’4 The Court further obligated member states not to recognize the illegal situation created by the Barrier and to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law. 

Although this is a non-binding advisory legal opinion on 20 July 2004, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved Resolution ES-10/15 which demanded that Israel comply with the ICJ opinion. Five years on, Barrier construction continues with approximately 200 kilometres constructed since the ICJ advisory opinion. Approximately 58% of the 709- kilometre-long Barrier is complete; a further 10% is under construction and 31.5% is planned.5 When completed, the majority of the route, approximately 85%, will run inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem rather than along the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line). The total area located between the Barrier and the Green Line amounts to 9.5% of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and No Man’s Land (See Barrier Facts and Figures, p. 8)

Download the Entire PDF