Israel’s Walls

Do They Work?

A Palestinian attacks the West Bank barrier near the town of Abu Dis, October 2015.  Ammar Awad / Reuters

On January 28, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to construct a wall on the U.S.–Mexican border, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” Netanyahu was right. Although it is hard to say whether Trump’s plan for a wall along the U.S.–Mexican border is viable, Israel’s border-security projects were both popular and successful at achieving most of their stated aims.

Israel has built three major barriers over the past 15 years, and despite provoking heated debate and international criticism, its experience with them has been mostly positive. The first, a separation barrier between Israel and the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, helped contain a Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in the mid-2000s. The second, a border fence on the Egyptian–Israeli border finished

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