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Israel pulls down barrier section

The barrier is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005.
The barrier is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005.

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An Israeli man wonders if his daughter would still be alive if Israel had a security barrier a few years ago.
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Palestinian farmers must get permits and go through an Israeli barrier to get to their farmland.
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel has started to pull down a five-mile section of the barrier that deviates into the West Bank from the border established in 1967.

A Defense Ministry spokeswoman said Israel would fall back to a newly completed section of the fence that follows the 1967 border between Israel and West Bank.

The move came on the same day that a suicide bomber killed at least seven passengers on a crowded bus in Jerusalem at the height of Sunday's rush hour, according to police in the city and Israeli ambulance services. (Full story)

"If anyone had any doubts of the need for the fence, today's crime against humanity speaks louder and better than any deposition," said Ra'anan Gissin, adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

He added that such perpetrators of "crimes against humanity" are the ones who should face the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Sunday's attack was also condemned by Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.

"We condemn this attack and once again we urge the United States, and other members of the Quartet [Russia, EU and U.N.] to exert every possible effort to revive the peace process and put it back on track," he said.

The section of the barrier being pulled down cuts into the West Bank around the Palestinian town of Baka al-Sharqiya, leaving about 7,000 Palestinian residents on the Israeli side of the barrier.

Defense Ministry spokeswoman Rachel Nidek-Ashkenazi said the plan was in the works for months and was not prompted by a Red Cross report criticizing the barrier or Monday's hearing about the issue at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands.

The report released last week by the International Committee of the Red Cross said the barrier was in violation of international humanitarian law and that Israel had erred by not following the so-called "Green Line," the 1967 border between Israel and West Bank. (Full story)

While Israel says the barrier helps keep suicide bombers out of Israel, the Palestinians say it is little more than a land grab.

Palestinian security sources reported a number of demonstrations, against both the barrier and Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, across the West Bank Saturday.

In Nablus, about 2,000 demonstrators, among them gunmen who fired assault rifles in the air, marched in memory of dead members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

In other towns and cities around the West Bank, including Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Jenin, hundreds of demonstrators protested against Israel's barrier, security services reported.

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