JERUSALEM – The route of the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank will harm the country's security instead of improving it, dozens of reserve military officers said in a letter Tuesday.
The Israeli government says the complex of fences, walls and barbed wire that will eventually stretch 425 miles is needed to keep out suicide bombers and other Palestinian attackers.
Palestinians charge the barrier disrupts the lives of thousands of Palestinians by cutting them off from their land, jobs and schools, and constitutes a land grab since it cuts deep into the West Bank at several points.
The letter, sent to Cabinet ministers, warned that they would be held responsible for the bloodshed that could result from the barrier's route. The 101 Israeli officers, many of them generals, are members of the Council for Peace and Security (search).
Council members were among the first Israelis to suggest the construction of a security barrier. But the council says it should be built along the so-called Green Line (search), a cease-fire line between Israel from the West Bank.
Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians want it for a state, along with the Gaza Strip (search) and east Jerusalem.
"Time flies! The fence is being built quickly and we will all pay a high price in blood," the letter read. "We are calling on you to exhibit courage and responsibility to the public and demand a change in the route of the fence!"
The barrier endangers Israeli troops who will have to patrol those sections that run near Palestinian homes, from which militants could attack, the officers wrote.
The barrier will also cause several points of friction at gates through which Palestinians will have to pass to conduct their daily affairs, according to the letter.
The 388,000 Palestinians who will be placed on the Israeli side of the barrier will pose an additional security hazard, as well as a demographic problem, the officers wrote.
The council has joined Palestinians in petitioning the Supreme Court against the route of the barrier in the Jerusalem area.
Two weeks ago the court ordered construction stopped along a 15-mile stretch of the barrier near Jerusalem, awaiting explanations from the army. The court will hear the army's case Wednesday, officials from the council said.