(Reuters) - Israel continues to build a barrier in the occupied West Bank despite Palestinian protests it is grabbing land and a World Court ruling that deemed the project illegal.
As the fourth anniversary of the ruling approaches, Israel kept a curfew on the Palestinian town of Nilin for the fourth day on Monday, choking off protests against a barrier it says is vital to Israeli security.
The following are five facts about the barrier, comprised mostly of razor wire-tipped fences and of smaller sections of towering cement walls:
*Israel began building the barrier in 2002 after dozens of its citizens were killed in suicide bombings carried out during a Palestinian uprising.
*The barrier is planned to extend for some 790 km (491 miles). About 405 km (252 miles) have been completed, while work has continued on other sections.
Israel has rerouted the barrier several times in response to its own high court rulings on appeals from human rights groups that Palestinians are cut off from vital farmland or services.
In 2006, it added a 110-km (68-mile) segment to its original plan so the barrier would snake around several Jewish settlements and parts of Arab East Jerusalem.
*Israel has continued building the barrier in defiance of a ruling by the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, based in the Hague, issued on July 9, 2004.
The non-binding ruling found that building the barrier on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war was “contrary to international law”, and urged Israel “to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall” in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem.
The barrier has also drawn other international condemnation. Even Israel’s main ally, the United States, has called it unhelpful.
*Israel says the barrier has played a key role in drastically reducing the number of attacks by Palestinians inside the country in the last five years.
According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Palestinians carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed between 2000 and mid-2003, when the first parts of the barrier were completed.
Since mid-2003 through the end of 2006, such attacks have numbered a dozen, and killed 64 Israelis.
*Palestinians denounce the barrier as a unilateral Israeli attempt to set a border that could prejudice negotiations for a future state alongside Israel, and that some 80 percent of its fences and walls cut through Palestinian territory.
Human rights groups say the barrier has effectively isolated some 60,500 Palestinians from the rest of the West Bank, and thousands more live in villages surrounded on at least three sides by the barricades, which restricts their ability to move around.
Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Editing by Stephen Weeks
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