When considering Gaza’s dire humanitarian conditions, it is impossible not to remember what Israeli government adviser Dov Weisglass said in 2006 when the Israeli siege started: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” How much of that callous, initial calculation remains valid today is debatable, as Palestinians in Gaza suffer health issues which are a direct consequence of Israel’s restrictions on the food available for the population, the illegal blockade on the enclave and the disaster wrought by the periodic bombardments of Gaza, the latest major offensive being “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.
The international community has repeatedly echoed a statement that Gaza will be “unliveable” by 2020. It appears that the deadline might need an extension as Israel will be submitting a $1 billion aid request to the international community because, according to the colonial power, it is Gaza itself that has brought the population to the verge of implosion.
Haaretz has reported comments that attest to Israel’s attempt to deflect its own responsibility and accountability. According to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin: “The entire world must know and understand that the ones preventing reconstruction are Hamas. Israel is the only party in the region that, under any conditions, supplies the residents’ minimal needs so that body and soul can survive.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed Rivlin’s words: “It’s absurd that Israel has to take care of the most basic necessities of life which the Hamas government ignores.” Major General Yoav Mordechai was more forthright in amalgamating the proposed projects to Israel’s security narrative, albeit while misrepresenting legitimate resistance as “terror”. Exonerating Israel of all blame for Gaza’s “failed economy”, he added that investing in the enclave is “an additional element of the IDF’s security doctrine.”
There is nothing new about this Israeli tactic. As part of its colonial expansion, it embarks upon destruction, displacement and deprivation; in compensation, it draws up projects for the international community to fund. Although Israeli officials eliminate culpability and timeframes in their rhetoric, it is obvious that, if there was no colonial presence in Palestine, it is likely that Palestinians would not have experienced the humiliation of aid dependency and having their needs classified according to what Israel decides the international community should focus upon.
Taking their cues from the misguided and erroneously depicted narrative about Gaza, the international community will likely acquiesce to Israel’s latest demand and thus, as a result, fund both colonialism and Israel’s security narrative which is integral to the development which Israel is allegedly envisaging for the territory. Considering that Israel’s focus on Gaza comes after US cuts in financial aid to Palestinians, it should prompt some close scrutiny. It may applaud what officials define as combating the purported bias against Israel, yet the vacuum left by the US withholding aid to Palestinians, although meagre when compared to the accumulation of needs, exposes colonial violence yet further.
The Israeli plan for Gaza’s infrastructure, therefore, is a step towards alienation. Ushering in a new form of dependency upon Palestinians in Gaza is not a step towards economic opportunity. This time there are many opportunities for Israel, which can extend its warped concept of humanitarian aid and development to a population which it has coldly and deliberately terrorised, murdered and maimed over many decades. Approval by the international community, including finance for the proposed projects, will allow Israel to push the limits in collaboration further. In the event that Israel decides to raze Gaza again with another brutal military offensive, the financial hits will be incurred by its international accomplices, following the established pattern of Israel’s demolition of EU-funded structures, only more severely. It is clear that Israel is seeking to inflict similar repercussions on the remaining fragments of Palestinian territory and there is no swifter way to achieve this than by inviting the international community to participate.