Separation barrier

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The Berlin Wall divided Berlin from 1961 until 1989, and was demolished between 1990 and 1992. Berlinermauer.jpg
The Berlin Wall divided Berlin from 1961 until 1989, and was demolished between 1990 and 1992.

A separation barrier or separation wall is a barrier, wall or fence, constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate peoples or cultures. [1] A separation barrier that runs along an internationally recognized border is known as a border barrier.[ citation needed ]


David Henley opines in The Guardian that separation barriers are being built at a record-rate around the world along borders and do not only surround dictatorships or pariah states. In 2014, The Washington Post listed notable 14 separation walls as of 2011, indicating that the total concurrent number of walls and barriers which separate countries and territories is 45. [2]

The term "separation barrier" has been applied to structures erected in Belfast, Homs, the West Bank, São Paulo, Cyprus, and along the Greece-Turkey border and the Mexico-United States border. In 2016, Julia Sonnevend listed in her book Stories Without Borders: The Berlin Wall and the Making of a Global Iconic Event the concurrent separation barriers of Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt), Limbang border (Brunei), the Kazakh-Uzbekistan barrier, Indian border fence with Bangladesh, United States separation barrier with Mexico, Saudi Arabian border fence with Iraq and Hungary's fence with Serbia. [3] Several erected separation barriers are no longer active or in place, including the Berlin Wall, the Maginot Line and some barrier sections in Jerusalem. [4]

Construction rate of separation barriers and walls

David Henley opines in The Guardian that separation barriers are being built at a record-rate around the world along borders and do not only surround dictatorships or pariah states. In 2014, The Washington Post listed notable 14 separation walls as of 2011, indicating that the total concurrent number of walls and barriers which separate countries and territories is 45. [2]

Structures described as "separation barriers" or "separation walls"

Central Europe

Communities in the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia have long built Roma walls in urban environments when a Roma group is in close proximity to the rest of the population. [5]


Green Line separation barrier, Cyprus Green Line near Paphos Gate.JPG
Green Line separation barrier, Cyprus

Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Turkey has constructed and maintained what economics professor Rongxing Guo has called a "separation barrier" of 300 kilometres (190 mi) along the 1974 Green Line (or ceasefire line) dividing the island of Cyprus into two parts, with a United Nations buffer zone between them. [6]


Egypt-Gaza barrier

The Egypt–Gaza barrier is often referred as "separation barrier" in the media [7] or as a "separating wall". [8] [9] [10] In December 2009, Egypt started the construction of the Egypt–Gaza barrier along the border with Gaza, consisting of a steel wall. Egypt's foreign minister said that the wall, being built along the country's border with the Gaza Strip will defend it "against threats to national security". [11] Though the construction paused a number of times, the wall is nearly complete.

Sharm el-Sheikh barrier

According to Julia Sonnevend, the anti-terrorist barrier around the Sharm el-Sheikh resort in Egypt is in fact a separation barrier. [3]


The Line of Control (LoC) refers to the military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former princely state of Kashmir and Jammu—a line which, to this day, does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary, but is the de facto border. Originally known as the Cease-fire Line, it was redesignated as the "Line of Control" following the Simla Agreement, which was signed on 3 July 1972. The part of the former princely state that is under Indian control is known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The two parts of the former princely state that are under Pakistani control are known as Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir (AJK). Its northernmost point is known as the NJ9842. This territorial division, which to this day still exists, severed many villages and separated family members from each other. [12] [13]

A separation fence construction between Indian and Pakistani controlled areas, based on 1972 cease-fire line, was initiated by India in 2003. [14] In December 2013, it was revealed that India plans a construction of a separation wall in the Himalayan area in Kashmir. [15] The wall is aimed to cover 179 km.

The India-Pakistan border seen at night India-Pakistan Border at Night.jpg
The India-Pakistan border seen at night

The other sections of India's borders also have a fence or wall.


Israeli West Bank barrier near Mount Zion Israel - Jerusalem - Mount Zion - 03 (4261536735).jpg
Israeli West Bank barrier near Mount Zion
Israeli West Bank barrier in Bethlehem Die Mauer von Bethlehem.jpg
Israeli West Bank barrier in Bethlehem

Israel began building the Israeli West Bank barrier in 2002, in order to protect civilians from Palestinian terrorism such as suicide bombing attacks which increased significantly during the Second Intifada. Barrier opponents claim it seeks to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security and undermines peace negotiations by unilaterally establishing new borders. When completed it will be a 700-kilometres long network of high walls, electronic fences, gates and trenches. It is a controversial barrier because much of it is built outside the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line), de facto annexing potentially 10 percent of Palestinian land, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It cuts far into the West Bank and encompasses Israel's largest settlement blocs containing hundreds of thousands of settlers.

In June 2004, the Israeli Supreme Court held that building the wall on West Bank Palestinian land is in itself legal, but it ordered some changes to the original route, which separated 35,000 Palestinian farmers from their lands and crops. The Israeli finance minister replied that it was disputed land, not Palestinian, and its final status would be resolved in political negotiation. [16] In July 2004, the International Court of Justice at The Hague in an advisory opinion declared the barriers illegal under international law and called on Israel to dismantle the walls, return confiscated land and make reparations for damages. [17] [18] In spite of all this, the number of Arab terrorist suicide bombings continued to decrease with the gradual completion of segments of the Security Barrier as was initially stated it would by the Israeli authorities. [19] [20]

Israel refers to land between the 1949 lines and the separation barrier as the Seam Zone, including all of East Jerusalem. In 2003, the military declared that only Israeli citizens and Palestinians with permits are allowed to be inside it; Palestinians have found it increasingly difficult to get permits unless they own land in the zone. [21] [22] The separation barrier cuts off east Jerusalem and some settlement blocs from the West Bank, even as Israelis and Arabs build structures and communities in eastern Jerusalem. [23] Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have continued to protest the separation barrier. [24]

The existing barrier cuts off access to the Jordan River for Palestinian farmers in the West Bank. [25] Due to international condemnation after the International Court ruling, Israel did not build an even stronger barrier, instead instituting permit-based access control. [26] It has been opined that this change was to allow land to be annexed. [27] [ better source needed ] Israeli settlement councils already have de facto control of 86 percent of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea [28] as the settler population steadily grows there. [29]


Writer Damon DiMarco has described as a "separation barrier" the Kuwait-Iraq barricade constructed by the United Nations in 1991 after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was repelled. With electrified fencing and concertina wire, it includes a 5-meter-wide trench and a high berm. It runs 180 kilometers along the border between the two nations. [30]


A 2016 separation wall around the Ain al-Hilweh camp in Lebanon is intended to separate the local Palestinian-Lebanese population and Syrian refugee Palestinians from the surrounding society. [31]


Renee Pirrong of The Heritage Foundation described the Malaysia–Thailand border barrier as a “separation barrier.” Its purpose is to cut down on smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, crime and insurgency. [32]

Saudi Arabia

In 2004 Saudi Arabia began construction of a Saudi-Yemen barrier between its territory and Yemen to prevent the unauthorized movement of people and goods into and out of the Kingdom. Some have labeled it a "separation barrier." [33] In February 2004 The Guardian reported that Yemeni opposition newspapers likened the barrier to the Israeli West Bank barrier, [34] while The Independent wrote "Saudi Arabia, one of the most vocal critics in the Arab world of Israel's 'security fence' in the West Bank, is quietly emulating the Israeli example by erecting a barrier along its porous border with Yemen". [35] Saudi officials rejected the comparison saying it was built to prevent infiltration and smuggling. [34]

Saudi Arabia has also built a wall on the Saudi Iraqi border.


Turkish border guards manning armoured vehicles disperse protesters with a water cannon along the Turkey-Syria fence in Kobani. Turkish border guards disperse protesters in Kobani.png
Turkish border guards manning armoured vehicles disperse protesters with a water cannon along the Turkey–Syria fence in Kobanî.

The Syria–Turkey barrier is a wall and fence under construction along the Syria–Turkey border aimed at preventing illegal crossings and smuggling from Syria into Turkey. [37] In 2017, The Syrian government accused Turkey of building a separation wall, referring to the barrier. [38]

United Kingdom

Gates in a "peace line" in West Belfast Gates in the 'Peace Line'.jpg
Gates in a "peace line" in West Belfast

Over 21 miles of high walling or fencing separate Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland, with most concentrated in Belfast and Derry. The wall[ clarification needed ] was built in 1969 in order to separate the Catholic and Protestant areas in Belfast. [39] An Army Major, overseeing the construction of the wall at the time, said: ‘This is a temporary measure ... we do not want to see another Berlin wall situation in Western Europe ... it will be gone by Christmas’. In 2013, that wall still remains and almost 100 additional walls and barriers now complement the original. Technically known as 'peace walls', there are moves to remove all of them by 2023 by mutual consent. [40]

United States

A barrier along the US-Mexico border. A US Border Patrol watches the barrier. US-Mexico border fence.jpg
A barrier along the US-Mexico border. A US Border Patrol watches the barrier.

The United States constructed a barrier on the border with Mexico of 3,169 kilometres (1,969 mi) to prevent unauthorized immigration into the United States and to deter smuggling of contraband. The US President Trump stated that he would replace the wall with a Trump wall; some parts of the old wall have been replaced. [41]

The Detroit Wall was erected to enforce redlining as part of the policies of racial segregation in the United States.

Western Sahara

System of the Moroccan Walls in Western Sahara with chronology of their construction Western sahara walls moroccan map-en.svg
System of the Moroccan Walls in Western Sahara with chronology of their construction

Morocco has constructed a 2,700 km (1,700 mi) long sand wall cutting through the length of Western Sahara. [42] [43] Minefields and watchtowers serve to separate the Moroccan-controlled zone from the sparsely populated Free Zone.

Past separation barriers


People climb onto the wall near Brandenburg Gate during the fall of the Berlin Wall, November 1989. BerlinWall-BrandenburgGate.jpg
People climb onto the wall near Brandenburg Gate during the fall of the Berlin Wall, November 1989.

The Berlin Wall was a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989, [44] constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in November 1989. [45] Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992. [46] The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, [47] which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.

The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" (German : Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) by GDR authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were "fascists." [48] The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the "Wall of Shame"—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall's restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin, from where they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. [49] During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with an estimated death toll of from 136 [50] to more than 200 [51] in and around Berlin.

In 1989, a series of radical political changes occurred in the Eastern Bloc, associated with the liberalization of the Eastern Bloc's authoritarian systems and the erosion of political power in the pro-Soviet governments in nearby Poland and Hungary. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Contrary to popular belief the wall's actual demolition did not begin until the summer of 1990 and was not completed until 1992. [44] The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

Map of separation barriers worldwide

excluding historical ones

Carte des barrieres de separation.svg

See also

Related Research Articles

Gaza Strip Self-governing Palestinian territory bordering Egypt and Israel

The Gaza Strip, or simply Gaza, is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km (32 mi) border. Gaza and the West Bank are claimed by the de jure sovereign State of Palestine.

Palestinian territories Territory in the Middle East

The term "Palestinian territories" has been used for many years to describe the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More recently, the official United Nations (UN) terminology has been used, occupied Palestinian territory increasingly replacing other terms since 1999. The European Union (EU) also has adopted this usage. The term Occupied Palestinian Territory was used by the UN and other international organizations between October 1999 and December 2012 to refer to areas controlled by the Palestinian National Authority. The EU had utilized a parallel term Palestinian Authority territories occasionally during the same period. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) referred to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as "the Occupied Palestinian Territory" and this term was used as the legal definition by the ICJ in the ruling in July 2004.

Israeli West Bank barrier Separation barrier built by Israel inside and around the West Bank since 2000

The Israeli West Bank barrier or wall or fence is a separation barrier in the West Bank or along the Green Line. Israel calls it a security barrier against terrorism, while Palestinians call it a racial segregation or apartheid wall. At a total length of 708 kilometres (440 mi) upon completion, the route traced by the barrier is more than double the length of the Green Line, with 15% of the barrier's length running along the Green Line or inside Israel, while the remaining 85% is inside the West Bank going up to 18 kilometres (11 mi) from the West Bank border, isolating about 9% of the land and 25,000 Palestinians from the rest of West Bank.

Saudi–Yemen barrier

The Saudi–Yemen barrier is a physical barrier constructed by Saudi Arabia along part of its 1,800-kilometer (1,100 mi) border with Yemen. It is a structure made of pipeline three metres (10 ft) high filled with concrete, acting as a "security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen" and fitted with electronic detection equipment.

Israel–Gaza barrier

The Israel−Gaza security barrier is a border barrier first constructed by Israel in 1994 between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The barrier runs along the entire land border of the Gaza Strip. Entry into the Gaza Strip by land is through five crossing points: the northern Erez Crossing into Israel, the southern Rafah Crossing into Egypt, the eastern Karni Crossing used only for cargo, and the other cargo crossing points, the Kerem Shalom Crossing on the border with Egypt and the Sufa Crossing farther north.

Philadelphi Route

The Philadelphi Route, also called Philadelphia Corridor, refers to a narrow strip of land, 14 km in length, situated along the border between Gaza Strip and Egypt. Under the provisions of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty of 1979, it was established as a buffer zone controlled and patrolled by Israeli forces. One purpose of the Philadelphi Route was to prevent the movement of illegal materials and people between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Palestinians, in cooperation with some Egyptians, have built smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Route to move these into the Gaza Strip.

The International law bearing on issues of Arab–Israeli conflict, which became a major arena of regional and international tension since the birth of Israel in 1948, resulting in several disputes between a number of Arab countries and Israel.

The Green Line, or (pre-)1967 border or 1949 Armistice border, is the demarcation line set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between the armies of Israel and those of its neighbors after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It served as the de facto borders of the State of Israel from 1949 until the Six-Day War in 1967.

Wall of Shame Term used referring to the Berlin Wall

"Wall of Shame" is a phrase that is most commonly associated with the Berlin Wall. In this context, the phrase was coined by Willy Brandt, and it was used by the government of West Berlin, and later popularized in the English-speaking world and elsewhere from the beginning of the 1960s. Inspired by its usage in reference to the Berlin Wall, the term has later been used more widely.

Israeli-occupied territories Territories occupied by Israel in 1967 and 1982 wars

The Israeli-occupied territories refers to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 and sometimes also to areas of Southern Lebanon, where Israeli military was notably present to support local Lebanese militias during the civil war and after it. Originally, the sole governance of the territories were as the Jordanian-annexed West Bank, the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, and the Syrian Golan Heights. The first use of the term 'territories occupied' was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for "the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" to be achieved by "the application of both the following principles: ... Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict ... Termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. In addition to the territories occupied following the Six-Day War, Israel also occupied portions of Southern Lebanon following the 1982 Lebanon War, and maintained a military presence there until withdrawing in 2000.

Israel and the apartheid analogy is criticism of Israel charging that Israel has practiced a system akin to apartheid against Palestinians in its occupation of the West Bank. Some commentators extend the analogy to include treatment of Arab citizens of Israel, describing their status as second-class citizens. The analogy has been asserted by scholars, United Nations investigators, the African National Congress (ANC), human rights groups and by several Israeli former politicians. Proponents of the analogy say that "a system of control" in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including the ID system; Israeli settlements; separate roads for Israeli and Palestinian citizens around many of these settlements; Israeli military checkpoints; marriage law; the West Bank barrier; use of Palestinians as cheaper labour; Palestinian West Bank exclaves; and inequities in infrastructure, legal rights, and access to land and resources between Palestinians and Israeli residents in the Israeli-occupied territories, resemble some aspects of the South African apartheid regime, and that elements of Israel's occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, contrary to international law.

Seam Zone

Seam Zone is a term used to refer to a land area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank located east of the Green Line and west of Israel's separation barrier, populated largely by Israelis in settlements such as Alfei Menashe, Ariel, Beit Arye, Modi'in Illit, Giv'at Ze'ev, Ma'ale Adumim, Beitar Illit and Efrat.

The 2008 breach of the Gaza–Egypt border began on 23 January after Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip set off an explosion near the Rafah border crossing, destroying part of the 2003 wall. The United Nations estimates that as many as half the 1.5 million population of the Gaza Strip crossed the border into Egypt seeking food and supplies. Due to fears that militants would acquire weapons in Egypt, Israeli police went on increased alert.

Gaza–Israel conflict

The Gaza–Israel conflict is a part of the localized Israeli–Palestinian conflict, but is also a scene of power struggle between regional powers including Egypt, Iran and Turkey together with Qatar, supporting different sides of the conflict in light of the regional standoff between Iran and Saudi Arabia on one hand and between Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the other, as well as crisis in Egyptian-Turkish relations.

Hafrada Policy of the Government of Israel to separate the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories from the Israeli population

Hafrada refers to the policy of the Government of Israel to separate the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories from the Israeli population.

Egypt–Gaza barrier

The Egypt–Gaza barrier refers to the steel border barrier along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Because it is essentially splitting the city of Rafah, the steel barrier is also referred as a separation wall.

Egypt–Israel barrier

The Egypt–Israel barrier refers to a border barrier built by Israel along its border with Egypt. It was originally an attempt to curb the influx of illegal migrants from African countries. Construction was approved on 12 January 2010 and began on 22 November 2010. However, following increased insurgent movement across the southern border in 2011 in wake of the crisis in Egypt, Israel upgraded the steel barrier project to include cameras, radar, and motion detectors. In January 2013, construction of the barrier was completed in its main section. The final section of the fence was completed in December 2013.

Nakba Day in 2011 was the annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people marking the Nakba—the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. Generally held on May 15, commemorative events in 2011 began on May 10, in the form of march by Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel on Israel's Independence Day. On May 13, clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem resulted in one Palestinian fatality, and clashes continued there and in parts of the West Bank in the days following.

Palestinian freedom of movement Movement restrictions in the West Bank

The restriction of the movement of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories by the Israeli government is an issue in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. According to B'Tselem, following the 1967 war, the Occupied Territories were proclaimed closed military zones. In 1972, general exit orders were issued allowing residents of those territories to move freely between the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. Following the first Intifada by 1991, these general exit orders were revoked, and personal exit permits were required. According to B'Tselem, a measure of overall closure of the Occupied Territories was enacted for the first time in 1993, and would result in total closures following rises in Palestinian political violence.

Border barrier wall or barrier at national boundaries

A border barrier is a separation barrier that runs along an international border. Such barriers are typically constructed for border control purposes such as curbing illegal immigration, human trafficking, and smuggling. In cases of a disputed or unclear border, erecting a barrier can serve as a de facto unilateral consolidation of a territorial claim that can supersede formal delimitation.


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