In an embarrassing blow to Israel, the Supreme Court yesterday ordered the state to redraw the route of its West Bank separation barrier near a Palestinian village that has come to symbolize opposition to the enclosure.
Meanwhile, pressure mounted on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to strike hard in Gaza after a rocket struck near a nursery school, and scenes of screaming children and terrified parents were broadcast nationwide.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon, an Olmert confidant, yesterday proposed cutting off electricity, fuel and water to the coastal strip.
Residents of the village of Bilin went to court arguing that the current route kept them from reaching their fields and orchards.
Villagers and their Israeli and foreign supporters have protested at the barrier every Friday for the past two-and-a-half years, routinely sparring with police in clashes that have wounded dozens.
The Israeli government argued that the route was necessary to protect residents of the nearby settlement of Modiin Illit, and completed the section near Bilin.
A three-judge Supreme Court panel unanimously rejected the government's argument yesterday, ordering defense planners to change the barrier's route to cause less harm to village residents.
"We were not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin's lands," Chief Justice Dorit Beinish wrote.
The judges ordered the government to come up with a new route in a "reasonable period of time."
This is not the first time Israel's Supreme Court has ordered authorities to move the fence.
"We went to court, hired the best lawyers in Israel and we won," said Abdullah Abu Rahma, one of the leaders of the weekly protest.
He vowed that villagers would keep fighting until the fence was moved entirely off Bilin's land.
Elated villagers poured out of homes and schools and headed toward the fence, where several army jeeps gathered as the crowd began to swell.
"They demolished the Berlin wall, we want to demolish the Bilin wall," they chanted.
The Israeli Defense Ministry, which has overseen construction of the barrier, said in a statement that it would "study the ruling and respect it."
Israel began building the barrier -- a combination of concrete walls, fences, trenches and patrol roads -- along the West Bank in 2002, saying it was a necessary weapon in its war against Palestinian suicide bombers.
In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced militant rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza, where Islamic Hamas militants are in control.
"We condemn the launching of rockets from Gaza and other places because these actions harm peace and the peace process," he said at a news conference.
In Israel, Ramon said severing water, fuel and electrical supplies to Gaza would force Hamas to stop the daily rocket fire.
"We won't continue to supply oxygen [to Gaza] in the form of electricity, fuel and water when they are trying to kill our children," he told Army Radio.
While Ramon is close to Olmert, government spokesman David Baker said the vice premier was voicing his own opinion.
Olmert said on Monday that he instructed the army "to destroy every Qassam rocket launcher and anyone who is involved in their launching." He is to convene his security Cabinet today to discuss a response to the attacks.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces shot an eight-year-old Palestinian boy in the head with a rubber-coated bullet, seriously wounding him, Palestinian hospital officials said. The army said troops operating in the area had encountered rioters throwing rocks and fired rubber-coated bullets in response.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
‘CHAPITOS’: An ex-DEA agent said the sons of the former cartel head are engaged in a battle for control, with the health of the man temporarily in charge a factor The fight for control of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s legacy spilled into the open on Thursday after a gun battle between rival Mexican gangs left 16 dead, authorities said. The 16 men, heavily armed and wearing bulletproof vests, died in a six-hour running shootout near the rural town of Tepuche in northwestern Sinaloa province. “A van with seven bodies was located” after an initial clash, while nine bodies were discovered following a second exchange, Sinaloa Minister of Security Cristobal Castaneda told reporters. Castaneda said that Wednesday’s clash near Tepuche, 25km from the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan, was “part of a struggle