At Israel’s West Bank Barrier, All Mammals Are Not Created Equal
Faced with growing environmental concerns, the Israeli government is looking for ways to allow certain mammals to pass through the West Bank barrier unencumbered. Several groups were citing families of animals, including foxes, separated by the massive wall.
“Many animals that live here, need their habitats, or breeding and feeding areas,” noted one Israeli ecologist. “They can eat in one place but hide in another place. So animals, especially the bigger ones, need open space for their existence.”
Lost among the mammals effected by the wall is the most obvious: humans. Every complaint made about the impact of the barrier on red foxes or the humble hydrax can be made, virtually without change, referring to the Palestinians living in the West Bank.
The barrier has separated families of ibex from one another, and surely families of people who can no longer travel from one village to another without contending with a military checkpoint. An animal may find his grazing area on one side of the wall and his nest on the other, but this is also true of many farmers, who have ended up with their homes on one side of the wall and the bulk of their field left fallow and inaccessible on the other side.
It is remarkable that Israeli courts could be so concerned with the migration of some mammals while its government remains openly hostile to the day to day movements of the most populous mammals in the West Bank. Maybe Palestinians would be better served in the near term in abandoning their quests for equality with Israeli Jews under Israeli law and instead try to at least get legal equality with porcupines first, which appears to be a dramatic improvement from their current situation.