[News] How Israel is Turning Gaza into a Super-Max Prison

Anti-Imperialist News 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



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 
Israeli officials.

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 
their investment.

/*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 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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