As world marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Israel’s Wall has become a new global icon for oppression

Symbolically, the wall in Palestine is this century’s Berlin Wall, albeit four times as long as that hated Cold War icon and more than twice as high. Under construction since 2002, it is expected to eventually extend for 709 kilometers through the West Bank. A series of concrete slabs, barbed-wire “buffer zones”, trenches, electrified fences, watchtowers, thermal-imaging video cameras, sniper towers, military checkpoints and roads for patrol vehicles have dismembered the cities of the West Bank and segregated them from occupied East Jerusalem.

The wall defies international law as well as United Nations Security Council resolutions, and deviates considerably from the original boundaries demarcating land captured by Israel during the 1967 War. It is more than twice the length of the Green Line, Israel’s recognized border with the West Bank. Israel maintains that it is intended as a defense against terrorist attacks; Palestinians view it as a cynical, long-term maneuver aimed at annexing more land to Israel and inhibiting Palestinian movement within the Occupied Territories.

“A country is not only what it does, it is also what it tolerates" 



Palestinians break through West Bank barrier to mark Berlin Wall anniversary
November 10, 2014

A group of Palestinian activists dug a hole through the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A small group of activists associated with resistance movements in villages around northwest Jerusalem hacked away at the barrier, known by Palestinians as the “Apartheid Wall,” on Saturday as a symbolic gesture to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and to draw attention to their plight.

“No matter how high walls are built, they will fall. Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation,” the activists’ said in a statement Saturday.

Israel began constructing the expansive barrier, which divides the West Bank village of Bir Nabala, situated between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in 2002. Israelis argue that the wall serves a crucial defensive purpose, indicating a drop in attacks since its construction as proof of its efficacy.

The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Teselem) decries the wall as a source of suffering for the Palestinian people. “[The wall] cut social ties and isolated villages from their farmland and citizens from their livelihoods,” the organization said.

In footage filmed by Palestinian TV, the protesters said that their aim was to stress that the 1967 Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem was illegitimate and demonstrate that nothing will stop them from reaching the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site and the former location of the Jewish holy Second Temple.

Just this Friday, Israel implemented new restrictions barring men under 35 from entering the sacred compound, following recent clashes stemming from allegations that Israeli troops stormed the compound.

Amid escalating tensions, the activists called upon fellow Palestinians to be ready to take part in the“Intifada of Jerusalem,” saying it would be “the final, fateful intifada to liberate Palestine.”

“The separation barrier exemplifies apartheid in modern times. We will continue with our activities against the expansion of settlements and the construction of the barrier until it is removed,” a masked activist told Andalou agency.



Scenes from Berlin twenty-five years ago as sections of the Berlin Wall begin coming down following its opening on November 9, 1989.

  1. A crowd of West German citizens gathers at the newly created opening in the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz, 11/14/1989. National Archives Identifier: 6460115
  2. A West German man uses a hammer and chisel to chip off a piece of the Berlin Wall as a souvenir. A portion of the Wall has already been demolished at Potsdamer Platz, 11/14/1989. NARA ID: 6460159
  3. East German police and West German citizens watch as a workman dismantles a section of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz, 11/14/1989. National Archives Identifier: 6460110
  4. East Germans drive their vehicles through Checkpoint Charlie as they take advantage of relaxed travel restrictions to visit West Germany, 11/14/1989. National Archives Identifier: 6460127
  5. West German children applaud as an East German couple drive through Checkpoint Charlie and take advantage of relaxed travel restrictions to visit West Germany, 11/14/1989. NARA ID: 6460134
  6. East German policemen stand atop a section of the Berlin Wall at sunset, 11/14/1989. National Archives Identifier: 6460149

“As a child, you love what you know. Not what grown-ups or strangers think is beautiful; no, you simply love what you know. You’re glad to know something. And this gladness sinks into your bones, is transformed into a feeling of being at home. As for me, well, I loved this ugly, purportedly gray East Berlin that had been forgotten by all the world, this Berlin that was familiar to me and that now—at least the part where I grew up—no longer exists.”

We’re out until January 5, but we’re revisiting some of our favorite pieces from 2014 while we’re away. Check out this post on a childhood in East Berlin, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and othersWe hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!