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banner image: Guide to the West Bank barrier

Introduction

Israel began building a 670km (420 mile) barrier in and around the occupied West Bank in 2002.

Israel says the barrier is the only way to defend against a wave of suicide bombings by Palestinian militants which shook the country in the early years of the intifada, or uprising, which began in 2000.

Palestinians view the structure as the prelude to an annexation of the parts of the West Bank where most Jewish settlers live, in line with Israel's plan for a unilateral solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the absence of a negotiated peace deal.

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice declared that the barrier was illegal and construction should be immediately halted, but Israel said it would not abide by what was an advisory ruling by the ICJ.

Sections of the West bank barrier at Abi Dis, near Jerusalem

Sections of the barrier in populated areas are made of 8m concrete slabs. Other sections are wire-mesh fencing lined with ditches

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