Security Fence Distortions

Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,

Photos portraying the Israeli security fence as a massive wall, towering over hapless Palestinians, are in news outlets everywhere these days ? these are from AP and Reuters this week:

This wave of pictures distorts the physical reality of the security fence. While nearly all news photos show an enormous concrete structure, in fact only 3% of the security fence will be constructed from concrete. Such sections are in high terror-risk locations such as eastern Jerusalem (above) and adjacent to Kalkilya, where in June Palestinian snipers burrowed under the fence, shot and killed 7-year old Noam Leibovitch in her family car.

Fully 97% of the barrier will be a chain-link fence:

The fence ? necessitated by three years of relentless Palestinian terror ? is a temporary, defensive measure, supported by 80% of Israelis. Death at the hands of terrorists is permanent and irreversible. The inconvenience caused to Palestinians by the security fence will end once terrorism stops and peace is achieved.

Meanwhile, the media is falsely presenting the fence as a new “Berlin wall” ? which makes for a far more dramatic news photo.

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In print, such distortions are sometimes exacerbated by outright factual errors: On December 3, the Boston Globe published an op-ed by Tom Wallace entitled “Israel’s Unholy Wall,” a completely one-sided screed against the security fence that contains this claim:

If built according to current maps, the wall will confiscate 55 percent of the Palestinian West Bank, including eight critical water wells.

Whose map is Wallace using? The map pictured here, courtesy of the left-wing B’Tzelem, is based on the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s operative plan and places the fence very close to the “Green Line”:

As illustrated here, no more than 10-15% of the West Bank will be on the western side of the security fence.  It’s also important to remember that the West Bank’s “Green Line” has never represented an international boundary ? the 1949 armistice agreements specifically refer to this fact. And there’s never been a recognized sovereign entity in the West Bank.

So on what basis did Wallace make his exaggerated claim of “55 percent of the Palestinian West Bank”?

Comments to:

Here is a succinct response to the security fence’s critics, by Israel’s ambassador to the US, Daniel Ayalon:

Those who oppose the fence say it’s really a land grab, that we are prejudging any political outcome and making life harsher for the Palestinians. But we say no, it’s not any of these. Categorically, this is a buffer zone. It’s certainly not a political border because it can be removed at any time. If the Palestinians stop terrorism, we won’t need a fence. By stopping terrorism I mean dismantling their infrastructure, collecting illegal weapons and closing the explosives labs. We can’t allow them to regroup; the leaders must be arrested. Do this and we won’t need a fence.

More excellent background material on the security fence is online at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which contains information like this:

Israel has made the use of public lands a priority in building the security fence, in order to avoid, as much as possible, the use of private lands. If this is not possible, then private land is requisitioned, not confiscated, and it remains the property of the owner. Legal procedures allow every owner to file an objection to the use of their land. When private lands are used, owners are offered full compensation, in accordance with the law; this compensation is offered both as a lump sum and also on a monthly basis.

Also, see the MFA website on the security fence, and the explanatory site of the Israeli Defense Ministry.

HonestReporting encourages subscribers to respond to distorted and inaccurate portrayals of Israel’s security fence in your local media.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.