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Controversy behind Israel's West Bank barrier

The West Bank barrier is a security necessity for Israel but for Palestinians, it's a hated eyesore.

BIL'IN, West Bank: Palestinians on Wednesday mark the 10th anniversary of a World Court ruling that Israel's walls and fences in the West Bank are illegal.

It comes as tensions between the sides continue to rise.

Israel's West Bank barrier is a security necessity for Israel but for Palestinians, it's a hated eyesore.

Yossi Mandelevitz is an Israeli who lost his child in a suicide bombing 11 years ago.

His son Yuval was only 13 years old when he got onto a bus on his way home from school.

It was the same bus that Mahmoud Kawasma, a Hamas suicide bomber, was sitting on.

"Yuval was sitting in the middle of the bus. Actually, he was 70 centimetres from the suicide murderer. When the bus was full, and stopped at a bus station, the suicide bomber advanced to the middle of the bus and exploded himself."

Yossi strongly believes that if the wall was around then, his son would still be alive today.

Its security cameras and state of the art technology mean that no-one can enter or leave Israel without being seen.

Israel started constructing the wall in the early 1990s as it needed a barrier to deter the scores of suicide bombers crossing from the West Bank, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians.

The wall is still being built. When completed, it will be approximately 700 kilometres in length.

Despite Israel’s arguments, Palestinians say this wall is illegal and is a way for Israel to annex Palestinian land which violates international law.

And the International Court of Justice agrees.

Ten years ago, the court ruled the wall was not a security measure but a de facto land grab by Israel. Tel Aviv rejected the ruling, calling it one-sided.

But Palestinians, like Hamde Abu Rachme, welcomed the decision as the wall restricts his movements and makes his life almost unbearable.

Critics point out its route substantially deviates from the Green Line - the border of the lands Israel captured in 1967 - and undermines negotiations.

Hamde feels it's a daily reminder of the barriers to peace.

"It really makes you sad because everywhere, (there are) fences, walls, checkpoints and this has also affected the Palestinian life," said Hamde.

As tensions between Palestinians and Israelis simmer to near boiling point, many here are wondering if good fences could make ever make good neighbours.

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