United Nations: The controversial Israeli security barrier that snakes through the West Bank has a "devastating" impact on the daily lives of Palestinians, a senior UN official just back from the region has said.
"I witnessed first hand the impact of the barrier on Palestinian communities. I was deeply disturbed by what I saw," under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said yesterday.
The barrier -- a network of walls, fences and closed military roads -- meanders through the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel in 1967 on which the Palestinians hope to build a state.
Israel says the barrier is designed to prevent attacks, but the Palestinians view it as an "apartheid wall" that carves off key parts of their future state.
The barrier "cuts off communities from basic services, denies people access from their homes =
When the 709-kilometres long barrier is complete, 85 per cent of it will have been built inside the West Bank.
"I recognise Israel`s concern about security," Amos said, "but the impact of the barrier is devastating. It`s clear that civilians are bearing the brunt of the continuing conflict and occupation."
Amos also "reiterated the importance of lifting the blockade of Gaza to facilitate economic development," while emphasising that Israelis "have the right to live without fear of attack.