The West Bank is under constant military assault, with settlers repeatedly shooting Palestinian farmers, often at close range, and firing rockets at Israeli homes, schools and hospitals.
But many Israelis have been unaware of the extent of the problem and, as the government tries to contain the situation, are concerned that their actions are being seen as a breach of international law.
In the past few months, Israel has also begun the process of building a “white fence” along the entire border with the West Bank, covering a territory of about 1.8 million people and separating it from other areas of the occupied West Bank.
The “wall” is a series of metal barriers that will be placed along the 1.5-mile-long border, and it will be built by the end of this year.
But there is a catch.
The wall is not yet complete.
Israel is trying to get the approval of the United Nations Security Council for the wall’s construction.
That’s a step that has been delayed by the Israeli government’s ongoing diplomatic standoff with the U.S. and European Union over the Palestinians’ demand for recognition of the State of Palestine as a Jewish state.
The Palestinian Authority has refused to recognize Israel as the state of Israel, and Israel’s settlement expansion on occupied land has provoked widespread international condemnation.
It is the first time in decades that Israel has attempted to build a wall without UN approval.
“Israel’s continued violation of international laws will have consequences for the future,” said Rima Khalaf, director of the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
“This decision by the U, European and Israeli governments to continue building this barrier in the West bank will only further strengthen the occupation.”
A white fence on land Palestinians have controlled for more than a century.
The current barrier was constructed in 2013 and was the subject of a lengthy legal battle that saw it rejected by the UN Security Council in December, which is expected to rule in Israel’s favor.
The White House has said the wall will remain a separate, sovereign state.
“The United States supports Israel’s right to self-defense,” White House press secretary Joshua Earnest said in a statement.
“We continue to believe that the international community has the right to make these decisions.
We continue to support the right of Palestinians to self determination and the right for all peoples to live in peace and security.”
However, the U (and European) governments are unlikely to endorse the construction of the wall, given their ongoing diplomatic disputes with the Palestinians over the status of Jerusalem.
Israel has threatened to withdraw from the region if the UNSC does not agree to recognize the Palestinian state.
In addition to building a wall along the border with Gaza, the government has also been planning to build several miles of concrete barriers along the Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel recently sent in ground troops to the border to prevent the crossings of illegal goods into the Sinai Peninsula.
But Israel says it is building the barriers to prevent Palestinian crossings into the West Banks, where settlers have long used the tunnels that cross the border.
A Palestinian official told Al Jazeera that Israel is “building a wall, a concrete wall, across a whole area of land in the Palestinian territories” that Palestinians have been “living under for decades.”
“The wall is a security barrier, not a fence, and is intended to deter any attempts to cross it,” said Ahmad Abu Mazen, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) National Security and Defense Committee.
“Any attempt to cross the wall with a Palestinian army will not be tolerated and will be met with a violent response by the Palestinian Authority and Israeli authorities.”