Gaza, uninhabitable territory
Israel is preparing to raze the Gaza Strip. Just hours after Saturday's large-scale Hamas attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the horrors that awaited the more than 2.2 million Gazans living in the 365-square-kilometer enclave, one of the most populated territories in the world. “Get out of there right now – he told the Palestinian civilians – because we will act everywhere.” Since then, the threats of a military incursion into the enclave by the Israeli army ¬sound in time with the bombs it launches with unprecedented intensity and which has left more than a thousand Palestinians dead and more than 5,000 injured. “Gaza will not be what it was,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant promised his soldiers deployed on the border on Tuesday.
Netanyahu's order is contradicted by the fact that Gaza is a heavily fenced mousetrap from which almost no one can escape and whose population has suffered a relentless blockade for 16 years. Access to water, electricity, fuel, goods as well as the flow of people depend on the good will of Israel or Egypt, since the only crossings open to the outside world, Rafah in the south and Erez , in the north, lead to these countries, which offer permits with very restricted criteria.
Because [Netanyahu] Doesn't it tell us where to run? We would really like to know
"Because [Netanyahu] Doesn't it tell us where to run? We would really like to know,” Hind Khoudary, 28, asked in statements to Associated Press from the basement of a hotel in Gaza City, while the bombs rumbled, destroying entire blocks and hitting hospitals and some schools used as shelters by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA). “The situation is catastrophic; "People don't know where to go," the general coordinator of Doctors Without Borders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Léo Cans, warned on Tuesday.
This is the latest chapter in the collective punishment that Tel Aviv has been inflicting on the Palestinians in Gaza since Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which declares itself jihadist, won the elections in 2006, a victory not recognized by Israel and part of the community. international. “The message that Gazans received then was that they had voted wrong, which justified the blockade of the Strip and the restrictions on humanitarian aid,” emphasizes the principal researcher in CIDOB's Mediterranean and Middle East area, Moussa Bourekba.
From the expulsion of Israelis to the blockade
Israel controlled Gaza for 38 years and built 21 Jewish settlements in that period. Tension and violence continued for years, including the first Intifada, a period of Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation in 1987, within which Hamas was born. In 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords, which aimed to realize the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” an agreement that Hamas did not recognize. In 1994, the Palestinians took over as the governing authority of Gaza. In 2005, Israel relinquished control of the Gaza Strip under domestic and international pressure and withdrew 9,000 settlers and Israeli military forces, although the enclave has never become a sovereign territory.
"In the first years after the birth of Hamas, Israel was interested in the existence of a more radical actor than Fatah. [componente principal de la OLP] whose willingness to negotiate peace was seen more favorably by the international community. By having a group that preached the destruction of Israel, the Israelis wanted to divide the Palestinian resistance and have an actor with whom it seemed impossible to negotiate diplomatically,” says Bourekba.
Israel was interested in the existence of a more radical actor than Al Fatah
But when Hamas emerged victorious, the embargo arrived, which has caused the collapse of the local economy: fishing is restricted and crop fields are now almost non-existent. More than 53% of the working population was unemployed in 2019, which has pushed more than half of Gazans into poverty and 80% to depend on international aid to survive.
The UN already predicted in 2012 that the territory would be “uninhabitable” by the year 2020. At that time Gaza had suffered Tel Aviv's Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. Today there are already six major confrontations between Hamas and Israel. In 2012, the Israeli army killed the organization's military leader. In 2014, Operation Protective Edge was ordered – the deadliest: with some 2,200 Palestinian deaths and 71 Israelis. In 2018 there were the “return marches” that Israel repressed with fury every Friday for a year. The 11-day war in 2021 and the last operation last May, which was nevertheless directed against Islamic Jihad. On that occasion, Hamas did not join the revolt and everything suggested that the group was leaning towards management rather than action. All of them with a very unbalanced balance of victims in favor of the Israeli side. “Although Israel wanted the Gazan population to stop supporting Hamas, after each episode Hamas emerged strengthened and not weakened,” Bourekba highlights.
Meanwhile, the Gazan population, who have not gone to the polls since Hamas' victory, live in despair. “Being in the situation they are in, in which there is absolutely no prospect of negotiating peace or alleviating living conditions, I doubt that the Gazans see any end to the conflict through diplomatic means.” Are Gazans happy with Hamas? No. At the end of July there were demonstrations in several cities in the Strip that were quickly dispersed by the organization's security forces.
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