In the early 1900’s, many Jews fled harsh persecution in Europe, especially the Holocaust, and immigrated to Palestine, where they believe to have an age-old historical and religious connection to the land. Zionism, a political ideology founded by Theodor Herzl in 1896, advocated for the creation of a Jewish homeland for Jews in the diaspora. Palestine, a British colony at the time, was a place where a Jewish minority has long coexisted among Christians and Muslims.
In 1947, the UN offered the Jewish minority the majority of historic Palestine, introducing a partition plan. The Jewish population rejoiced at the founding of the new state, whereas the Palestinians rejected the partitioning. This led to the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, ending in further annexation of Palestinian land, depopulating over 500 Palestinian villages and forcing 85% of the population into exile from what became the new state of Israel.
In a second attempt to retrieve the annexed land, several Arab states invaded the state of Israel in 1967, in a six-day war that ended with Israel gaining full military control over the remaining Palestinian territories, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The current occupation is illegal under international law.
Today, Israel practices and maintains 4 main architectural elements of occupation and control.
The Separation Wall was constructed in 2002 on occupied territory, to separate East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza from the rest of Israel. Though Israel claims it was constructed for security purposes, it was ruled as illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. It restricts Palestinian's access to lands, resources, crucial services and relatives on the other side of the barrier. Despite this, the construction of the wall continues.
The Israeli Military or border police has created hundreds of permanent roadblocks and checkpoints across the West Bank. They obstruct the daily lives of civilians, and people crossing checkpoints on a daily bases to work, school, or to access basic facilities. Commuters are made to wait for hours, and often humiliated through interrogation and strip searches, if they are suspected to be a threat to the security of Israel. The checkpoints violate the Palestinian’s right to transportation and freedom of movement within the occupied territories.
Since 1967 Israel has established over a hundred settlements in the West Bank, built on confiscated land, in breach of international humanitarian law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, that forbids population transfer onto occupied territory (Article 49). These settlements house Israeli civilian populations in environments under heavy security, cut-off from the rest of the population. These enclaves dominate the natural resources, including water and agriculture in the region, only allowing a small percentage of these resources to the local inhabitants who constitute the majority of the population in the Palestinian territories. Their very existence on occupied territory violates Palestinian human rights, including the right to property, equality, a decent standard of living, and freedom of movement.
As part of the architecture of control, the occupation has created and complex network of settler-only roads connecting the different settlements across the West Bank, in the process isolating Palestinian villages and urban centers. This makes it even more difficult to travel from place to place if the vehicle does not have an Israeli number plate, further segregating the two populations by law.