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From the field

Barrier along Route 317

In October 2003, the Israeli government decided to build the separation barrier in the South Hebron Hills area north of the area’s main road, Route 317, which connects the settlement of Carmel with the Meitar Crossing, so that the settlements and settlement outposts in the area remain on the “Israeli” side of the barrier. In February 2005—further to the June 2004 verdict of the High Court of Justice in the Beit Surik case which requires Israel to take into account possible harm the route of the barrier could cause Palestinians—the Israeli government decided to have the barrier in this area correspond to the Green Line, apart from one incursion into the West Bank near the settlement of Mezadot Yehuda.

מעקה הבטון בדרום הר חברון. צילום: האגודה לזכויות האזרח, פברואר 2006. In December 2005 the Israeli military began construction of an 82 cm high concrete guard rail along 41 km of Route 317, from the settlement of Carmel to a point south of the settlement of Tene. The municipalities of a-Dhahiriya, a-Samu’, Yatta and a-Tuwani, together with ACRI and Rabbis for Human Rights, petitioned the High Court of Justice against the construction of this barrier, arguing that it prevents access between the area south of the barrier – where there are some twenty villages, with approximately 2,000 residents and their pastures and agricultural land – and the rest of the West Bank. In December 2006 the High Court of Justice accepted the petition after ruling that construction of the barrier is not proportional and instructed the Israeli military to dismantle it within six months. The military did not carry out the ruling and tried to present an alternative option that included placing gates in the barrier at intervals of every one to two hundred meters. After the petitioners again turned to the High Court of Justice in July 2007, this time arguing contempt of court, the High Court of Justice ordered the military to dismantle the barrier within 14 days, and this was indeed accomplished in August 2007.