Hafrada (Hebrew: הפרדה, lit.'separation, disengagement')[1] is the policy of the government of Israel to separate the Israeli population from the Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories,[2][3] in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[4][5][14]

Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli Prime Minister from 1992-1995, was the first to advocate for the construction of a physical barrier between Israelis and Palestinians. Following the 1995 Beit Lid suicide bombing that killed 22 Israelis, Rabin stated that separation is necessary to protect the majority of Israeli Jews from Palestinian terrorism.[15] Ehud Barak, Prime Minister from 1999 to 2001, stated that "good fences make good neighbors."[16] Since its first public introductions, the concept-turned-policy or paradigm has dominated Israeli political and cultural discourse and debate.[3][17][6]

The separation policy was maintained by successive Israeli governments, which constructed the Israel-Gaza barrier and the Israeli West Bank barrier (Geder Ha'hafrada, Hebrew for "separation fence").[6] In 2005, Israel carried out the disengagement from Gaza, which included the evacuation of Israeli settlements and the IDF from the Gaza Strip. The West Bank closures have also been cited as an example of the policy.[6][8][18]

Other names for hafrada when discussed in English include unilateral separation[6][19] or unilateral disengagement.[23] Aaron Klieman has distinguished between partition plans based on "hafrada", which he translated as "detachment"; and "hipardut", translated as "disengagement."[24] The Hebrew word Hafrada can imply both "separation" and "segregation."[25][17] Critics have linked the Hafrada policy to apartheid,[10] and others argue the word "hafrada" bears a "striking similarity" to the South African use of the term.[26]

In 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard A. Falk used the term repeatedly in his "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967".[27][28][29]



Main articles: Palestinian political violence and Gaza–Israel barrier

Yitzhak Rabin was the first to propose the creation of a physical barrier between Israelis and Palestinians in 1992, and by 1994, construction on the first barrier – the Gaza-Israel barrier – had begun. In January 1995, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad carried out a double suicide bombing at the Beit Lid Junction near Netanya, killing 22 Israelis. Following the attack, Rabin specified the objectives behind the undertaking, stating that,

"This path must lead to a separation, though not according to the borders prior to 1967. We want to reach a separation between us and them. We do not want a majority of the Jewish residents of the state of Israel, 98% of whom live within the borders of sovereign Israel, including a united Jerusalem, to be subject to terrorism."[15]

The first Israeli politician to campaign successfully on a platform based explicitly on separation, under the slogan of "Us here. Them there," was Ehud Barak.[8][16]

In the U.S.-based journal Policy Review, Eric Rozenman writes:

"Barak explained hafrada – separation – this way in 1998: 'We should separate ourselves from the Palestinians physically, following the recommendation of the American poet Robert Frost, who once wrote that good fences make good neighbors. Leave them behind [outside] the borders that will be agreed upon, and build Israel.'"[6][16]

The adoption by the Israeli government of a policy of separation is generally credited to the ideas and analysis of Daniel Schueftan as expressed in his 1999 book, Korah Ha'hafrada: Yisrael Ve Harashut Ha'falestinit or "Disengagement: Israel and the Palestinian Entity".[6][30][31] An alternate translation for the title in English reads, "The Need for Separation: Israel and the Palestinian Authority."[32] In it, Schueftan reviews new and existing arguments underlying different separation stances, in order to make the case for separation from the Palestinians, beginning with those in the West Bank and Gaza. Schueftan favours the "hard separation" stances of politicians like Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, while characterizing the stance of politicians like Shimon Peres, as "soft separation".[31]

After assuming office in 1999, Barak moved to "stimulate cabinet discussion of separation" by distributing copies of Haifa University Professor Dan Schueftan's manifesto, Disengagement, to his ministers.[6] The separation policy was subsequently adopted by Israel's National Security Council, where Schueftan has also served as an advisor.[31] According to Gershon Baskin and Sharon Rosenberg, Schueftan's book appears to be "the working manual for the IDF and wide Israeli political circles" for the implementation and "unilateral construction of walls and fences."[31]


Main articles: Israeli West Bank barrier and Israeli disengagement from Gaza

The Second Intifada, a large Palestinian uprising against Israel, lasted from 2000 to 2005. This period was marked by intensive and numerous Palestinian suicide bombings, the majority of which were directed towards Israeli citizens. Between 2001 and 2005, these suicide bombs killed 491 Israeli citizens, turning civilian life into a battleground.[33][34][35][36][37] As a result, the Israeli government abandoned hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and embraced a strategy of unilateral disengagement.

In February 2001, Meir Indor, lieutenant colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces, submitted that "hafrada (separation) – they are there and we are here" had become the "new ideology" and "new word for those who fantastize about peace."[38] Indor aimed strong criticism toward Ariel Sharon's proposed peace agreement put forward during the 2001 elections in which Sharon claimed he would provide "peace and security" by making "a hafrada the length and breadth of the land."[38] Indor stated that in his opinion, "If it were possible to make a hafrada, it would have been done a long time ago." He also noted that, "Binyamin Ben Eliezer himself said hafrada is impossible to implement."[38] In 2002, Rochelle Furstenberg of Hadassah Magazine reported that the concept of "unilateral disengagement" had been unknown to the public eight months previous, but that the notion had gained momentum.[20]

In 2002, the Ariel Sharon Government began work on the Israeli West Bank barrier at the Seam Area. Israel has since maintained that the barrier is vital to keep Palestinian attackers out of Israeli cities.[39][40] The barrier has been described by Daniel Schueftan as constituting, "the physical part of the strategy," of unilateral separation. Schueftan has explained that: "It makes the strategy possible because you cannot say 'this is what I will incorporate and this is what I will exclude' without having a physical barrier that prevents movement between the two."[41]

In 2005, Israel carried out the disengagement from Gaza (Hebrew: תוכנית ההתנתקות, romanizedTokhnit HaHitnatkut, lit.'disengagement plan'), a unilateral dismantling in 2005 of the 21 Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of Israeli settlers and army from inside the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had originally dubbed his unilateral disengagement plan – in Hebrew, Tokhnit HaHitnatkut, or Tokhnit HaHinatkut – the "separation plan" or Tokhnit HaHafrada before realizing that, "separation sounded bad, particularly in English, because it evoked apartheid."[22] The plan was put before the Israeli public in mid-December 2003.[41] Formally adopted by the Israeli government and enacted in August 2005, the unilateral disengagement plan resulted in the dismantlement of all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank. Schueftan has characterized Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan as only the first step in a "wider historical process."[42]

Telling The Jerusalem Report in 2005 that he could "even pin the dates on it," he suggested that in 2007 or 2008, there would be another major disengagement in the West Bank; and that before 2015, Israel would unilaterally repartition Jerusalem along lines of its own choosing. Schueftan argued that the "underlying feature" of disengagement is not that it will bring peace, but rather that it will prevent "perpetual terror".[42]

Implementation of hafrada has continued under the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.[8][11][19][43]


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Analysis and debate

In October 2000, Ha’aretz journalist Gideon Levy commented in the Courrier International that public support by an overwhelming majority for "hafrada" was an outgrowth of the average Israeli's indifference to the history and lot of the Palestinians – which he contrasted with Israel's demand that Palestinians study the Holocaust to understand Jewish motivations.[3]

In Mapping Jewish Identities, published that same year (2000), Adi Ophir submitted that support for what he calls "the major element of the apartheid system – the so-called separation (hafrada) between Israelis and Palestinians," among Zionists who speak in favor of human rights is attributable to internal contradictions in Zionist ideology.[44]

In 2002, a television broadcast of The McLaughlin Group on the subject of Israel's separation policy opened with the words: "Jews call it hafrada, "separation", in Hebrew. Critics call it apartheid. The more technical neo-nomenclature is, quote, unquote, "unilateral disengagement." It's an idea that has gained ground in Israel."[10]

According to Smith and Cordell, implementation of the Hafrada policy is considered to use cultural autonomy as an excuse for enforced segregation.[45]

Notable usage examples

By Israelis

By Palestinians

By activists and advocacy organizations

By journalists

See also



  1. ^ According to the Milon and Masada dictionaries, hafrada translates into English as "separation", "division", "disengagement", "severance", "disassociation" or "divorce". Milon: English Hebrew Dictionary
  2. ^ Smith & Cordell 2013, p. 25: "The Hebrew term Hafrada is the official descriptor of the policy of the Israeli Government to separate the Palestinian population in the territories occupied by Israel from the Israeli population, by means such as the West Bank barrier and the unilateral disengagement from those territories. The barrier is thus sometimes called gader ha'hafrada (separation fence) in Hebrew. The term Hafrada has striking similarities with the term apanheid, as this term mean 'apartness' in Afrikaans and Hafrada is the closest Hebrew equivalent."
  3. ^ a b c Gideon Levy (4 November 2000). "Republished as an excerpt of the original 28 October 2000 article in the Courrier International, under the title Au fil des jours, Périphéries explore quelques pistes – chroniques, critiques, citations, liens pointus : Israël-Palestine, revue de presse". Périphéries. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2007.
  4. ^ Alcalai, Reuben (1981). The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary. Masada.
  5. ^ Undoing and Redoing Corpus Planning, Michael G. Clyne, p.403, "In the Language of "us" and "them" we could have expected an undoing when an integrative policy of the two communities was introduced. Obviously the [Peace] Process moves in the opposite direction: separation. Actually, one of the most popular arguments use by the government to justify its policy is the "danger" ("the demographic bomb", "the Arab womb") of a "bi-national state" if no separation is made: the Process is thus a measure taken to secure the Jewish majority. The term ‘separation’ ‘’hafrada’’ has become extremely popular during the Process referring to fences built around Palestinian autonomous enclaves, to roads pave in the Territories exclusively for Israelis to the decrease of the number of Palestinians employed in Israel or allowed to enter into it altogether. The stereotypes of the Palestinian society as backward" have not changed either."
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Eric Rozenman (April–May 2001). "Today's Arab Israelis, Tomorrow's Israel: Why "Separation" Can't Be the Answer for Peace". Policy Review. Hoover Institution. Archived from the original on 7 February 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  7. ^ a b Jeff Halper, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). "Nishul (Displacement): Israel's form of Apartheid". Retrieved 17 March 2007.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b c d e f Alain Epp Weaver (1 January 2007). "Further footnotes on Zionism, Yoder, and Boyarin". Cross Currents. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  9. ^ Mazin B. Qumsiyeh (28 June 2006). "Discussion on: Searching for Peace in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" (PDF). Institute of Strategic and Development Studies, Andreas Papandreou, University of Athens. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d "Transcript from broadcast of The McLaughlin Group". The McLaughlin Group. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2007. Taped 24 May 2002 & broadcast 1 to 2 June 2002
  11. ^ a b Ben Shani (19 January 2007). ""The Result of the Hafrada Policy is Quiet in Hebron, But All Await the Storm" (Hebrew)". Nana.co.il Magazine (original from Channel 10 News). Archived from the original on 4 October 2015.
  12. ^ Fred Schlomka (28 May 2006). "Toward a Third Intifada". Common Dreams (originally published in The Baltimore Sun). Archived from the original on 16 June 2013.
  13. ^ a b James Bowen (28 September 2006). "Making Israel Take Responsibility". Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  14. ^ [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]
  15. ^ a b David Makovsky. "How to Build a Fence". Archived from the original on 5 April 2007.
  16. ^ a b c David Makovsky (16 July 2000). "Barak's Separate Peace". The Washington Post. p. B01. Retrieved 23 March 2007.[dead link]
  17. ^ a b c Esther Zandberg (28 July 2005). "Surroundings: Separation Seems to Have Spread Everywhere". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2007.
  18. ^ Neil Sandler (11 March 2002). "Israel: A Saudi Peace Proposal Puts Sharon in a Bind". Business Week. Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  19. ^ a b Jonathan Cook (11 May 2006). "Israel's Road to "Convergence" Began with Rabin: A Short History of Unilateral Separation". CounterPunch. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  20. ^ a b Rochelle Furstenberg (November 2002). "The Left Regroups on the Fence". Hadassah Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 September 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  21. ^ Shlomo Brom (November 2001). "The Many Faces of Unilateral Disengagement in Strategic Assessments". The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  22. ^ a b Steven Poole (2006). Unspeak: How Words Become Weapons, How Weapons Become a Message, and How That Message Becomes Reality. Grove Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-8021-1825-9.
  23. ^ [8][10][20][21][22]
  24. ^ Aaron S. Klieman (15 January 2000). Compromising Palestine: A Guide to Final Status Negotiations. Columbia University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-231-11789-2.
  25. ^ Beyond the Two-State Solution: A Jewish Political Essay, Yehouda Shenhav, "Israel's present separation policy – known in Israel as hafrada, a Hebrew Word which can mean both segregation and separation – is a natural continuation of the cultural-political position designed by the new nostalgia and of the demographic project, which constitutes the continuation of the war through other means."
  26. ^ Smith & Cordell 2013, p. 25
  27. ^ "A/HRC/25/67, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967". 13 January 2014. Archived from the original on 5 November 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  28. ^ "UN's Falk accuses Israel of 'ethnic cleansing'". The Times of Israel.
  29. ^ "U.N. Rights envoy points to apartheid in Palestinian areas". Reuters. 24 February 2014.
  30. ^ Meyrav Wurmser (Fall 2002). "Book Review of Korah Ha'hafrada: Yisrael Ve Harashut Ha'falestinit, Disengagement: Israel and the Palestinian Authority". Middle East Quarterly. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  31. ^ a b c d Gershon Baskin; Sharon Rosenberg (June 2003). "The New Walls and Fences:Consequences for Israel and Palestine" (PDF). Centre for European Policy Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2006.
  32. ^ Leslie Susser (19 September 2005). "Gaza: The Doomed Experiment (Reprinted at the website of the Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council)". The Jerusalem Report. Archived from the original on 3 September 2007.
  33. ^ Matta, Nada; Rojas, René (2016). "The Second Intifada: A Dual Strategy Arena". European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie. 57 (1): 66. doi:10.1017/S0003975616000035. ISSN 0003-9756. S2CID 146939293. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022. Suicide terror, lethal attacks indiscriminately carried out against civilians via self-immolation, attained prominence in the Palestinian repertoire beginning in March 2001. From that point until the end of 2005, at which point they virtually ceased, 57 suicide bombings were carried out, causing 491 civilian deaths, 73% of the total civilians killed by Palestinian resistance organizations and 50% of all Israeli fatalities during this period. While not the modal coercive tactic, suicide terror was the most efficient in terms of lethality, our basic measure of its efficacy.
  34. ^ Brym, R. J.; Araj, B. (1 June 2006). "Suicide Bombing as Strategy and Interaction: The Case of the Second Intifada". Social Forces. 84 (4): 1969. doi:10.1353/sof.2006.0081. ISSN 0037-7732. S2CID 146180585. Archived from the original on 27 June 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022. In the early years of the 21st century, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza became the region of the world with the highest frequency of - and the highest per capita death toll due to - suicide bombing.
  35. ^ Schweitzer, Y. (2010). The rise and fall of suicide bombings in the second Intifada. Strategic Assessment, 13(3), 39-48. "As part of the violence perpetrated by the Palestinians during the second intifada, suicide bombings played a particularly prominent role and served as the primary effective weapon in the hands of the planners."
  36. ^ Schachter, J. (2010). The End of the Second Intifada? Archived 30 September 2021 at the Wayback Machine. Strategic Assessment, 13(3), 63-70. "This article attempts to identify the end of the second intifada by focusing on the incidence of suicide bombings, arguably the most important element of second intifada-related violence."
  37. ^ Sela-Shayovitz, R. (2007). Suicide bombers in Israel: Their motivations, characteristics, and prior activity in terrorist organizations. International Journal of Conflict and Violence (IJCV), 1(2), 163. "The period of the second Intifada significantly differs from other historical periods in Israeli history, because it has been characterized by intensive and numerous suicide attacks that have made civilian life into a battlefront."
  38. ^ a b c Interview by Shai Gefen. "Waiting To See Which Sharon We'll Get After The Elections". Beis Moschiach Online Edition. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2007.
  39. ^ "The Anti-Terrorist Fence vs. Terrorism". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 10 January 2004. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  40. ^ Nissenbaum, Dion (10 January 2007). "Death toll of Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians hit a low in 2006". Washington Bureau. McClatchy Newspapers. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2007. Fewer Israeli civilians died in Palestinian attacks in 2006 than in any year since the Palestinian uprising began in 2000. Palestinian militants killed 23 Israelis and foreign visitors in 2006, down from a high of 289 in 2002 during the height of the uprising. Most significant, successful suicide bombings in Israel nearly came to a halt. Last year, only two Palestinian suicide bombers managed to sneak into Israel for attacks that killed 11 people and wounded 30 others. Israel has gone nearly nine months without a suicide bombing inside its borders, the longest period without such an attack since 2000[...] An Israeli military spokeswoman said one major factor in that success had been Israel's controversial separation barrier, a still-growing 400-kilometre (250 mi) network of high-tech fencing, concrete walls and other obstacles that cuts through parts of the West Bank. 'The security fence was put up to stop terror, and that's what it's doing,' said Capt. Noa Meir, a spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces. [...] Opponents of the barrier grudgingly acknowledge that it's been effective in stopping bombers, though they complain that its route should have followed the border between Israel and the Palestinian territories known as the Green Line. [...] IDF spokeswoman Meir said Israeli military operations that disrupted militants planning attacks from the West Bank also deserved credit for the drop in Israeli fatalities.
  41. ^ a b "The ICJ Hearing on the Wall Awaiting a Momentous Ruling". Zawya (original from Monday Morning). 25 February 2004. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  42. ^ a b Leslie Susser (19 September 2005). "Gaza: The Doomed Experiment (Reprinted at the website of the Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council)". The Jerusalem Report. Archived from the original on 3 September 2007.
  43. ^ Jerrold Kessel; Pierre Klochendler (February 2006). "Israel votes for separation". Ha'aretz, English Edition. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  44. ^ Adi Ophir (2000). "The Identity of the Victims and the Victims of Identity: A Critique of Zionist Ideology for a Post-Zionist Age". In Laurence Jay Silberstein (ed.). Mapping Jewish Identities. NYU Press. p. 196. ISBN 0-8147-9769-5. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2007.
  45. ^ Smith & Cordell 2013, p. 18.
  46. ^ Original French reads: "Nos priorités ont changé. Au rêve du Grand Israël a succédé la réalité du petit Israël. Ce qui compte pour les gens, c’est de vivre mieux, ici. D’ailleurs, demandez-leur ce qu’ils souhaitent, surtout après les attentats. La réponse majoritaire, c’est : hafrada la séparation."
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  50. ^ Mazin B. Qumsiyeh (28 June 2006). "Discussion on: Searching for Peace in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" (PDF). Institute of Strategic and Development Studies, Andreas Papandreou, University of Athens. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
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