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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July, 2003, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Israeli security fence casts shadow

By James Rodgers
BBC correspondent in the West Bank

The newly-built concrete and steel wall separating the Palestinian West Bank town of Qalqilya from Kfar Saba in Israel
The West Bank barrier aims to separate Palestinians and Israelis
A security guard at Kfar Saba station is vigilant. Earlier this year, the man who used to do his job was killed by a suicide bomber.

The attacker had entered Israel from the West Bank.

Now Israel is building a huge barrier of razor wire and concrete blocks to stop anyone else trying to do the same.

Just off Kfar Saba's main street, Yahyair Ben Joseph has a delicatessen.

His business has suffered from the loss of trade during the conflict. So has the entire Israeli economy.

Yahyair questions the cost of the multi-million pound security fence but admits the threat of suicide bombers has scared away customers.

"People are afraid to come because of the bombs, especially here in the market," he says. "So it's not really doing well. We only hope one day to have peace."

In a playground near the town hall, children are enjoying the school holidays. At the end of June, Palestinian militants promised a three-month ceasefire. It is still holding.

For Kfar Saba's mayor Yitzhak Wald, that is no reason for the wall not to be built.

"I don't think in the long run that we shall have a fence here," he says. "This is only for the time being because terror is still aiming at the centre of Israeli and Kfar Saba also."

Town 'strangled'

The building work here on the outskirts of Qalqilya in the West Bank suggests something permanent.

Dust and diesel fumes fill the air above coils of razor wire. Qalqilya's mayor Maarouf Zahran says the town is being strangled.

Israelis work on building a fence to separate Israel and the Palestinian territories near the city of Qalqilya
The barrier is a fence in some areas
"We feel like there's a noose around our neck," he says. "About 600 stores have already closed and the income of about 45% of farmers will be cut as their land will be confiscated."

One of those worst affected is Hassan Harouf. He grows fruit and flowers. I met him around a garden table where he says he has talked with scores of Israeli clients. But no more.

Concrete blocks now cast a shadow on his land.

"Transporting the plants used to take us 10 minutes. Now it's taking six hours and it's costing a lot of money to pay for it," he says.

"I'm living here. Look at this wall. It's nine metres away and I can't even see the sunset."

Israel says the fence is purely for security reasons. Palestinians say it is an attempt to grab West Bank land and destroy their dreams of statehood.

If so, it could also jeopardise US President George Bush's vision of Israel and Palestine one day living peacefully, side by side.

Israel and the Palestinians



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24 Apr 03  |  Middle East

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