This morning I went walking in the northeast part of Jerusalem, from the Jewish (settler) neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev to the Palestinian neighborhood Sho’afat. My route skirted along the Sho’afat refugee camp, which made for some striking, but sad views.
Although Sho’afat Refugee camp is within the Jerusalem municipal boundary, the wall isolates it from the city. Most services are provided by UNRWA, not Israel, and the municipal infrastructure is astonishingly bad. There’s garbage everywhere because no one comes to pick it up. The houses are in bad shape, and 20,000 people are crammed into a neighborhood intended for 1,500. Thanks to the wall, it’s become sort of a lawless land that isn’t taken care of by Israeli or Palestinian police, with the exception of Border Police raids, checkpoints, and tax collection. It was shocking to see the state of the camp, while just 200 yards away, Jewish settlers live in comfortable, new apartments. Furthermore, while the vast majority of the Separation Barrier is fenced, there is a wall in urban areas to protect Israelis from gunfire, which was a legitimate problem in areas of Jerusalem during the Second Intifada. But here, there’s no way the wall would be effective at doing this. It seems to me that the wall is much more important visually and psychologically than it is in terms of security.