While demonstrating on Thursday, a small group tried to force open a gate through to the other side of the barrier, but Israeli troops broke up the protesters by firing tear-gas grenades, an AFP correspondent reported.

The 4000-strong Palestinian town of Baqa al-Sharqiya, which straddles the Green Line with Israel was cut off by the barrier from the West Bank city of Tulkarem and other areas vital to its economy.

This demonstration comes as part of week-long activities organised by the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. The week kicked off on 9 November "to coincide with the anniversary of the destruction of Berlin wall," explained campaign organisers.

"We are doing this to show the world that the Israelis are building a wall in the 21st century in a time when all the walls were demolished including the Berlin wall," Ayman Radi, one of the campaign's organisers, told Aljazeera.net in a previous interview.

Controversy

Builders began work on the concrete wall in June 2002 between the Palestinian towns of Qalqilya and Jenin. About 150km of the expected 245km barrier has been built so far.

Critics of the structure suggest that by building it, many Palestinian towns and lands fall on the Israeli side rather than following the internationally recognised 1967 border.

Israel refers to the wall as a "security fence" that is needed to stop the resistance attacks inside the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon told his cabinet in March the barrier was “another means to assist in the war against terror and assist in stopping illegal aliens”.