[News] How Israel is Turning Gaza into a Super-Max Prison
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 29 11:42:49 EDT 2014
October 29, 2014
*Freedom Doesn't Ring*
How Israel is Turning Gaza into a Super-Max Prison
by JONATHAN COOK
It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone
Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli military doctrine
known as "Dahiya", has tentatively only just begun two months after the
end of the fighting.
According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or
damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians -- nearly one in three of Gaza's
population -- homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help.
Roads, schools and the electricity plant to power water and sewerage
systems are in ruins. The cold and wet of winter are approaching. Aid
agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50
years to rebuild Gaza.
Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the
international community stand by idly as so many people suffer -- and
not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans?
The reason for the hold-up is, as ever, Israel's "security needs". Gaza
can be rebuilt but only to the precise specifications laid down by
We have been here before. Twelve years ago, Israeli bulldozers rolled
into Jenin camp in the West Bank in the midst of the second intifada.
Israel had just lost its largest number of soldiers in a single battle
as the army struggled through a warren of narrow alleys. In scenes that
shocked the world, Israel turned hundreds of homes to rubble.
With residents living in tents, Israel insisted on the terms of Jenin
camp's rehabilitation. The alleys that assisted the Palestinian
resistance in its ambushes had to go. In their place, streets were built
wide enough for Israeli tanks to patrol.
In short, both the Palestinians' humanitarian needs and their right in
international law to resist their oppressor were sacrificed to satisfy
Israel's desire to make the enforcement of its occupation more efficient.
It is hard not to view the agreement reached in Cairo this month for
Gaza's reconstruction in similar terms.
Donors pledged $5.4 billion -- though, based on past experience, much of
it won't materialise. In addition, half will be immediately redirected
to the distant West Bank to pay off the Palestinian Authority's mounting
debts. No one in the international community appears to have suggested
that Israel, which has asset-stripped both the West Bank and Gaza in
different ways, foot the bill.
The Cairo agreement has been widely welcomed, though the terms on which
Gaza will be rebuilt have been only vaguely publicised. Leaks from
worried insiders, however, have fleshed out the details.
One Israeli analyst has compared the proposed solution to transforming a
third-world prison into a modern US super-max incarceration facility.
The more civilised exterior will simply obscure its real purpose: not to
make life better for the Palestinian inmates, but to offer greater
security to the Israeli guards.
Humanitarian concern is being harnessed to allow Israel to streamline an
eight-year blockade that has barred many essential items, including
those needed to rebuild Gaza after previous assaults.
The agreement passes nominal control over Gaza's borders and the
transfer of reconstruction materials to the PA and UN in order to bypass
and weaken Hamas. But the overseers -- and true decision-makers -- will
be Israel. For example, it will get a veto over who supplies the massive
quantities of cement needed. That means much of the donors' money will
end up in the pockets of Israeli cement-makers and middlemen.
But the problem runs deeper than that. The system must satisfy Israel's
desire to know where every bag of cement or steel rod ends up, to
prevent Hamas rebuilding its home-made rockets and network of tunnels.
The tunnels, and element of surprise they offered, were the reason
Israel lost so many soldiers. Without them, Israel will have a freer
hand next time it wants to "mow the grass", as its commanders call
Gaza's repeated destruction.
Last week Israel's defence minister Moshe Yaalon warned that rebuilding
Gaza would be conditioned on Hamas's good behaviour. Israel wanted to be
sure "the funds and equipment are not used for terrorism, therefore we
are closely monitoring all of the developments".
The PA and UN will have to submit to a database reviewed by Israel the
details of every home that needs rebuilding. Indications are that
Israeli drones will watch every move on the ground.
Israel will be able to veto anyone it considers a militant -- which
means anyone with a connection to Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Presumably,
Israel hopes this will dissuade most Palestinians from associating with
the resistance movements.
Further, it is hard not to assume that the supervision system will
provide Israel with the GPS co-ordinates of every home in Gaza, and the
details of every family, consolidating its control when it next decides
to attack. And Israel can hold the whole process to ransom, pulling the
plug at any moment.
Sadly, the UN -- desperate to see relief for Gaza's families -- has
agreed to conspire in this new version of the blockade, despite its
violating international law and Palestinians' rights.
Washington and its allies, it seems, are only too happy to see Hamas and
Islamic Jihad deprived of the materials needed to resist Israel's next
The New York Times summed up the concern: "What is the point of raising
and spending many millions of dollars ... to rebuild the Gaza Strip just
so it can be destroyed in the next war?"
For some donors exasperated by years of sinking money into a bottomless
hole, upgrading Gaza to a super-max prison looks like a better return on
/*Jonathan Cook* won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.
His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran
and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing
Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His
website is www.jonathan-cook.net <http://www.jonathan-cook.net/>. //A
version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi./
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News