Pink Floyd's Roger Waters urges Israel to 'tear down the wall'
Legendary rocker arrives in country for concert, visits section of the separation fence in Bethlehem.
Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who inspired the rock band's iconic album "The Wall," scrawled "tear down the wall" on the concrete panels of Israel's West Bank barrier on Wednesday.
The barrier was the first stop on a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories for Waters, who had been criticized by some fans for planning to play a concert in Israel.
"It's a horrific edifice, this thing," Waters told reporters as he stood beside a section of the barrier in Bethlehem.
"I've seen pictures of it, I've heard a lot about it but without being here you can't imagine how extraordinarily oppressive it is and how sad it is to see these people coming through these little holes," he added. "It's craziness."
Waters added to graffiti with red spray paint and a marker pen. Waters was lyricist, songwriter and singer for Pink Floyd, the former British rock group famous for "The Wall" and "The Dark Side of the Moon".
Israel has built almost half the barrier, which has the stated aim of keeping suicide bombers out of its cities.
Condemned by Palestinians as a land grab, the barrier has been branded illegal by the World Court because it cuts through occupied territory. Israel is rerouting some sections after a Supreme Court order to lessen Palestinian hardship.
Waters is due to perform a concert at the Arab-Jewish coexistence village of Neve Shalom on Thursday as part of his world tour.
The concert was originally planned for a Tel Aviv sports stadium but, following criticism by fans in Britain, Waters changed the location to the peace village, where Israeli Jews and Arabs live in a joint community.
In 1990, Waters performed "The Wall" along the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Germany to celebrate reunification.
He told reporters he hoped Israel's barrier would also be brought down one day. More than 90 percent of the barrier is razor-tipped fence, but towering concrete walls are used in built-up areas.
"It may be a lot harder to get this one down, but eventually it must happen," Waters said.
Massive traffic jams expected for Waters showThe concert by the former Pink Floyd soloist is expected to cause massive traffic jams tonight on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and Route 3 between the Latrun and Nahshon intersections. About 20,000 vehicles are expected to try to reach the concert venue near Neveh Shalom on a road that has between two and four lanes.
Jerusalem Police and national traffic police will deploy unprecedented forces to cope with the extraordinarily heavy traffic burden. A total of 950 police officers and 600 security guards and ushers are to maintain security at the concert, while 180 police officers and 200 parking attendants will direct traffic in the area.
"It is possible that at some point we will decide to direct vehicles against the normal traffic patterns in order to ease the burden," one source said.
"We recommend that drivers remain patient and leave early to attend the concert. Drivers coming from the Tel Aviv area are advised to leave as early as 4 or 5 P.M. The official concert will begin at 8:45 P.M., but opening acts will begin as early as 6 P.M," said Police Commander Tzion Shai, an officer in the special missions division of the Jerusalem police force.
Police predict that 45,000 people will attend the concert.
"We recommend that drivers who are not attending the concert make use of alternate routes, like Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway 443 or Route 44 from Kiryat Gat to the Beit Jubrin intersection, and proceed to Jerusalem from there," Shai said.
The Jerusalem Police also recommends that concertgoers wear flat shoes in order to avoid slipping on the furrowed earth at the site.