Crossing the Line

A New Israeli Train Line Through Occupied Palestinian Areas

A new railway line is being built between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, unlawfully crossing into the occupied Palestinian territory in two areas, at a great cost to Palestinian communities. European companies are involved in the planning and construction of the new train line.

A new fast train line is planned to connect Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel's two main metropolitan centers, with two or three trains an hour, in a 28-minute route. This new train line, sometimes referred to as the A1 train, is one of the biggest infrastructure projects that the Israeli government has undertaken in the last decade. The route crosses official state borders into the occupied West Bank in two areas, using occupied Palestinian land, some of it privately owned, for an Israeli transportation project aimed exclusively for Israelis.

Part 1 of the report follows the planned route of the railway and its implications. It discusses the planning process and the legal considerations concerning the route, describes the situation of the Palestinian communities most affected by the route and provides firsthand accounts by the residents.

By crossing the Green Line border into the West Bank, the A1 train line is unlawful and unethical. According to international law, an occupier may not use the occupied resources solely for the benefit of its own citizens. This line was planned for the exclusive use of Israeli citizens; it is imposed on the local Palestinian residents by the dictates of a military regime, in which they have no representation; and it would be completely inaccessible to the local residents. The 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) of the railway route which fall outside the official Israeli state borders are creating devastating effects on the three Palestinian communities in the area.

Part 2 of the report focuses on the involvement of Israeli and international companies in the planning and construction of the train line. Because the project requires special expertise, several international corporations have been contracted to provide economic and engineering consultancy, specialized tunneling machinery and tunneling work.

The report identifies a number of international corporations involved in the project and lists some of the main planners, consultants and contractors for each section of the train line. These contractors include two governmental companies: Deutsche Bahn (Germany) and Moscow Metrostroy (Russia), as well as private European firms such as Pizzarotti (Italy). As of October 2010, the construction in most of the route is well underway, but the main tunneling has not yet begun and the deadline for completion has been postponed to 2016-7.

The Beit Surik Village Council has explicitly called for international intervention and support: "We, the people of Beit Surik, do not want the train line to be built on our land. We see as fundamentally important that the people of the world support our right to decide on the use of our own land and help us change the route of this train line". (See the complete letter in section 1.3.1 of the report). As an Israeli organization committed to ending the occupation, we support the call of the Beit Surik Village Council. We have created this report so that others can become aware of, and respond effectively to the destructive effects of the A1 train route.