Suicide bombing revives Israeli push to finish its wall
The Palestinian attack on Monday has prompted many to say the wall should extend to the border between Israel and Egypt.
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Still, the likelihood that the bombers actually came from Hebron and not from Gaza only seemed to further Israeli arguments to resume construction of the West Bank barrier.
Several areas of the barrier that Israel began building in 2002 are unfinished, including two major areas in the south Hebron Hills as well as certain areas around Jerusalem.
Israel moved ahead with the project despite great international critique and a ruling at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that the line of the barrier – which in many places goes well beyond the pre-1967 boundaries, or the Green line – was illegal. Today, the wall remains finished in several key areas: in the region known as the South Hebron Hills and several areas around Jerusalem.
As of last November, the Israeli prime minister's office said that the budget for completing the barrier had run out. Several parts of it are still being challenged in court, with groups of Palestinians and human rights activists waging a legal battle against specific stretches of the barrier, while other parts were still in the planning stages when construction tapered off.
Gabriel Sheffer, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, notes that the concept of Israel building a barrier between its territory and Egypt's is not controversial because there's no border dispute since the two countries made peace in 1979.
The south of the country, which was long seen as a rather safe and quiet region, is now being viewed by Israel as a region under fire: first by Qassam rockets launched by militants in Gaza, and second, by the sense of increased vulnerability to suicide bombings.
The crisis between Gaza and Egypt has raised tensions on both sides of the border. On Tuesday, Egyptian police rounded up about 2,000 Palestinians in Sinai a day following clashes that led to the death of one Palestinian and nearly 60 injuries, Reuters reported. Palestinians launched several Qassam rockets at Israel's southern town of Sderot, hitting one house and injuring at least one person. Israeli air raids Tuesday killed at least six Palestinians in the Khan Younis area of Gaza.
Israeli security forces are warning of additional bombing attempts and say that during the nearly two weeks in which the Gaza-Egypt border was open, longer-range rockets and missiles were brought into Gaza.
"I can't see how these activities will stop, and so the demand to finish the fence – both fences – will grow," says Professor Sheffer.
He said part of the reason for the flare-up was Defense Minister Barak's decision to shut Gaza off from goods, fuels, and electricity, adding, "Blowing the fence up was a direct reaction to what Israel did."