Gaza Must Stay at the Helm: Extending the Displacement of Palestinian Civilians

Aside from the siege, Israel's wars on Gaza caused widespread destruction, left thousands homeless. (Photo: File)

By Ramona Wadi

Within the space of two days, Israel has exposed its hypocritical scheming when it comes to Palestinians. Two and a half years after its devastating aggression on Gaza, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved the reconstruction of 1,500 homes destroyed during the relentless bombing in Summer 2014; even if they are rebuilt (and that is open to question), it still leaves around 60,000 Palestinian families who are homeless in Gaza. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has also promised the lifting of restrictions on settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem.

At least temporarily, the tunnel network seems to have dropped from Netanyahu’s list of preoccupations. The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which was an exercise in eliminating Hamas’s autonomy in the enclave, was a stilted process in which Palestinians were deprived of the required materials for rebuilding homes; the excuse was that Hamas would use the material to develop the tunnel network. The premise ensured a consistent internal displacement of Palestinians to date, in line with the original ethnic cleansing which paved the way for Israel’s creation on Palestinian land in 1948.

Back in November 2014, Robert Serry, who held the post of UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said, “In the absence of viable alternatives, the UN views the temporary reconstruction mechanism as an important step towards the lifting of all closures on Gaza.” When Israel happens to be the context of such statements, it is perhaps best to eliminate words such as “absence”, “alternatives” and “temporary”, since each definition has been constantly manipulated by the Zionist state to create permanent situations of humanitarian need and dependency.

According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu promised to remove “any political obstacles from regional and local planning committees in order to ease construction.” Ma’an news agency reported him as stating, “What I am prepared to give the Palestinians is not exactly a state with every authority but rather a ‘state-minus’.” The prime minister also declared that the Trump administration advised him against unilateral measures: “We were asked not to surprise them but to formulate a joint policy.”

Israel, however, was established upon acquiescence to unilateral measures in a manner that is equivalent to an open international conspiracy against Palestinians. Through the constant shifting between thinly-veiled arrogant attitudes depicting alleged benevolence and outright belligerence, Israel continues to plan unilaterally and unhindered. Indeed, the antagonism towards US President Donald Trump regarding support for Israel, although justified, should steer away from creating specific and limited exaggeration. Trump’s policies regarding Palestine should be perceived as an extension of Washington’s condoning of Israeli violations under successive presidents who have paved the way for the increasing colonization of Palestine by Zionist Jews.

Both Israel and Palestine are aware of this. Israel, however, has been capable of altering its opportunistic narrative according to what it perceives as a priority. The Palestinian Authority continues to grapple with slivers of foreign policy, creating a divided issue away from the historical context and garnering fragments of empty promises within a limited spectrum ranging from symbolism to oblivion.

In all likelihood, the rebuilding of homes in Gaza and accelerating settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem should provoke a unified analysis regarding colonialism, exploitation and deprivation. This fact notwithstanding, Gaza is perhaps deserving of further attention due to the current intensive focus regarding possibilities concocted between Trump and Netanyahu, which is furthering separation of the Palestinian cause.

It is important to elevate Gaza’s importance beyond the premeditated Israeli aggression and their aftermath. For two and a half years, the enclave was a blatant Israeli experiment in sustaining internal displacement. Given the PA’s absence of assertiveness, it is imperative to place Gaza at the helm of any unified Palestinian struggle against further Israeli colonization efforts.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was first published. She is also a columnist in various newspaper, and an artist.

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