Since the 1967 occupation of Palestine by Israel, Palestinian residents have held green-coloured ID cards, which gives them access to most cities within the West Bank. However, the much disputed capital city, Jerusalem, is inaccessible to green ID card holders because of the intimidating barrier wall surrounding it, volatile checkpoint rules and strategically positioned snipers for those who enter buffer zones.
Jerusalem is seen by the Israelis as their capital city, although it is not internationally recognised as such.Therefore, those living in the much-disputed municipal hold blue ID cards, the Israeli colour. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who were living in the city at the time of occupation, were given a permanent residency status and blue ID cards. They therefore hold access to services and can cross the checkpoints when they need to.
However, friends and family in the West Bank cannot enter the historical city to visit them. Jerusalemites unlucky enough to have been out of the city at the time of the census were not given blue ID cards, or granted residential status, even if they had been for instance temporarily studying abroad, or on vacation. This has led to families and friends being split and broken for holding different coloured ID’s.
In some instances, green ID holders have been stranded on the blue ID side of the barrier wall. This is true of people throughout the West Bank who have live in between the internationally recognised ‘edge’ of Israel, known as the green-line, and the barrier wall itself. Because of the convoluted route of the barrier, particularly around Jerusalem, these people have become isolated, holding the wrong colour ID card for the area they have always lived in, or been forced to relocate to as 1947 refugees.
These green ID holders must apply for permits to be able to live in their own homes, as well as access the rest of the West Bank and return again after doing so. Some people can apply for permits which last several years, but others have to renew them within a few months. This a long and time-consuming process which requires personal information to be collected and still requires documentation checks every time they cross the barrier.
In Jerusalem there are approximately 1,600 green ID holders who cannot obtain permits at all. They are considered illegal by the Israeli authorities and are at constant risk of being detained and/or expelled to the West Bank where they will not be able to get back into the city to their homes.
These people are the most at risk of all Palestinians. They cannot access the services around them as they do not hold Blue ID cards. They cannot even call for an ambulance in an emergency as they will not be allowed to enter the hospital for medical treatment. To access any form of healthcare they must go into the West Bank and risk scaling the wall to get back into their homes.
97.5% of green ID holders on the Jerusalem side of the barrier reported it having a detrimental impact on their well-being. For refugees, this figure is 100% (surveyed by UNWRA).
Most of the world’s boundaries which separate countries, time zones, fishing sites and even human interactions, are imagined. They exist on maps and can be internationally recognised, but they can not be seen by the naked-eye. The wall between Israel and Palestine would be unsightly and unnecessary if it was built on the Green Line, the recognised boundary, but it would be deemed legal under international law.
However, because up to 85% of the barrier has been built within the West Bank and on Palestinian territory, it is not just an eyesore and an inconvenience, but an illegal measure of apartheid. It affects every Palestinian on a different level of severity; economic livelihood, access to basic services such as education, employment and emergency medical treatment, psychosocial well-being, community displacement and overall freedom of movement and choice.