The separation barrier (a wall in some places, fencing and checkpoints in other places) was built as a reaction to relentless Palestinian suicide bombings of restaurants, buses, Passover Sedars, grocery stores, and other civilian targets as part of Yassir Arafat's Second Intifada. Several hundred Israeli civilians died in these attacks, along with even more Palestinians in Israeli retaliatory military operations. The barrier was constructed when all else failed, and it worked:
The Israeli [military] operation and initial construction of the security fence resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of suicide attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorist organizations: in 2002 there were 60 suicide attacks, while in 2003 this number decreased by more than 50% to 26 suicide attacks. There was also a considerable decrease in the number of fatalities: from 452 Israelis killed in 2002 to 214 Israelis killed in 2003....Attempted bombings still take place, but they are stopped almost always on the Palestinian side of the barrier. And because Israel does not need to carry out as many military operations in the West Bank to stop the suicide bombers, fewer Palestinians die.
The Al-Aqsa Intifada never officially ended and it is debatable whether the events after February 2005 should be considered part of the uprising or as independent events. From September 2000 until February 2005, approximately 3,000-3,300 Palestinians were killed and approximately 950-1010 Israelis were killed.
But to listen to people like Blumenthal, and others on the American left and internationalist movements, one would think Israel built the barrier just to make life difficult for Palestinians and to grab land. If that were the case, why wasn't the security barrier built decades ago, and in a place which gave Israel much more land?
The Palestinians who try to tear down the barrier to clear the way for the suicide bombers are romanticized by people who always find something wrong with Israel. The protests always are violent, by intention, just like the protests by people who trash whatever city has the misfortune of hosting a world economic forum:
Every Friday for the past seven months, the villagers of Nilin [one of the cities mentioned in Blumenthal's post], bolstered by foreign volunteers from the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement and some Israeli far-leftists and anarchists, have protested against the expansion of Israel’s separation barrier here. Now under construction, it is one of the final sections to be completed in this area west of Ramallah in the West Bank.Neda should have no place in the phony Palestinian victimhood narrative, and it is a pathetic stretch for Blumenthal to go there. Neda never strapped on a bomb or tried to blow up a bus, didn't support people who did such things, and doesn't deserve to be used as a pawn in the internet Intifada against Israel.
The protests inevitably end in violent clashes.
More on Blumenthal: Despicable: Huffington Post Equates Iran Neda Murderers to Israel
Law Professor Continues His Personal Intifada
Double Standard On Americans Hurt In Israel
Abid Katib - Palestinian Shoe Fauxtographer?
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