In 2001, the Israeli government announced the construction of the West Bank barrier. The stated purpose of construction to prevent attacks by Palestinians on Israeli citizens. In a subsequent advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice decided the wall would block access to health care and education, and was “contrary to international law”.
The Barrier, with its limited number of gates, has been criticized by humanitarian agencies for limiting access of Palestinians to employment, health care, and education, but was defended by the Israeli government as an important security measure.
A survey of key informants was conducted in May 2004 at 78 health facilities and 121 schools in the northern West Bank districts of Jenin, Qalqilya, and Tulkarem, in order to assess the impact of the Barrier on access and use of health and educational services.
The Barrier negatively affected access to education and health care, in terms of statistically significant increases in distance and travel time to schools and health facilities. In several areas, service utilization, assessed by weekly visits to health facilities and student enrollment, was affected by barrier construction, although these findings were not statistically significant. A significant decrease in staff attendance was observed at health facilities and schools.
The Barrier may have long-term effects on access and utilization of health and educational services among Palestinians in the northern West Bank.