A happy christmas indeed. You may all have heard of the West Bank barrier, which is mostly a fence with entry and exit points. When I was there, these points were not staffed. In and around some towns and cities, the barrier is a wall - a very high one - probably 8 meters. A lot of graffiti on the Palestinian side and very clean on the Jewish side.
The Israeli government argues that it protects civilians from suicide bombings and other terror attacks that increased significantly during the second Intifada. The barrier contributed to decrease suicide bombings from 73 (killing 293 and injuring 1,900) in the three years leading up to July 2003. These attacks decreased to 12 in the next 3 years.
In the Bethlehem area that I took this picture, a lot of petrol bombs got chucked at the Jews living lower down the slope. No wonder, as I took this picture, there are two filling stations behind my back. The height of the walls, makes it impossible to throw Molotov's anymore. So I guess the hey days of the two filling stations are something of the past.
Apart from decreasing the incidence of suicide bombings and other attacks, the walls also have the impact of making life very difficult for Palestinians. People living on the Palestinian side of the wall, have to pass through one of various check points (different from the fences, the wall check points are staffed), to gain access to the economy of Jerusalem in this case. There is social impact, too. Families and erstwhile neighbourhoods are divided by the barrier.
No, I am not chosing sides in these altercations.
I would rather wish you all a very blessed Christmas day from Pretoria.