Update – 10 December 2009

Posted by Emily Chrapot on 10 December 2009 at 3:35pm

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I came across an article in Haaretz this morning that had me shouting “Someone contact the Hague”.

You might not believe this, but there is a country that is building an iron wall across a border. The wall, which will be 10 kilometres long, will be “made of enormous slates of steel”, and go 20-30 metres into the ground.

The decision to build the wall has been made in order to shut down smuggling tunnels into the area. Apparently, these tunnels have become such an issue, that the country’s army is forced to either demolish the tunnels or fill them with gas on a regular basis. They do this even when people are still inside, and casualties within the tunnels have been rapidly on the rise.

An iron wall? Demolitions? Gas? What an outrage. Except it is not, because the country that is undertaking this project is not Israel, but Egypt. Therefore, this story will never see the light of day. To read the article, click here.

This is in stark contrast to the constant criticism Israel received when the decision was made to build a security fence along the West Bank in 2001. It was designed not to be an official border, but to be a means of security between the Palestinian towns of the West Bank and Israel proper until a proper peace is achieved. More than 97% of the planned 720km Security Fence was to consist of a chain-like fence system, while less than 3% of the fence was to be constructed of concrete. Yet the world media and the Palestinians chose to focus on the 3% made from concrete, and the issue was taken all the way to the International Court of Justice, which as an advisory ruling found the fence in contravention of international law. 

Additionally, criticism about borders being closed in the Gaza Strip always focuses solely on Israel despite the fact that the border has been shut between Egypt and Gaza since Hamas’ bloody coup in June 2007.

All of this talk about smuggling tunnels is interesting considering Israel’s latest assessment that Hamas is smuggling in a considerable amount of advanced weaponry from Iran through the use of underground tunnels. According to the same report Hamas has increased its use of civilian infrastructure, particularly the mosques; 80% of which Hamas now controls. In the event of a future conflict, the IDF will be unable to attack by air, and will have to send in foot soldiers to the population centres, causing more Israeli casualties and leaving Israel without a technological disadvantage (see more).

Today’s Australian carries a story by John Lyons entitled ‘Both sides hail EU Jerusalem decision’. The story centres around a resolution by the EU, which called for Jerusalem to be a part of any final-status agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For the full resolution, click here.

One of the most interesting parts of the article for me, was the last three paragraphs, which focussed on an entirely different issue.

It began, “meanwhile, a survey has found a deterioration in human rights among 12 Arab countries and said torture was “routinely and systematically” practiced in Egypt… Other countries experiencing a deterioration included ‘Palestine’, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia”.

Surely in a world so focussed, and rightly so, on Human Rights, a story such as this deserves to be told in full, and not as a “meanwhile” for an article on Israel? Unsurprisingly, the story did not even see the light of day in the Age, not even the make the “In Brief” section which makes me wonder whether the problem is the issue of human rights or something else.

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