This Accursed Place: Israel Moves to Deport Innocent Families to Its Most Ravaged Penal Colony - Gaza
Resilience in Gaza, AFP photo
In its 10th year under siege by Israel, Gaza today is the world's largest ghetto or open-air cage, and the ultimate "realization of Israel's vision of separation." Its almost two million Palestinians, almost half of them children, live trapped in its fearsome ruins, still victimized and traumatized by the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza - Warning: graphic - and surviving without adequate housing, water, food, electricity or guarantee of safety. Officials estimate 70% of its residents are in need of humanitarian aid, 60% are either hungry or about to be, per capita income is $1,273, unemployment hovers near 45%, and the UN warns all of Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020 unless the international community acts to end the Israeli blockade and its devastating effects.
Toward that end, Israelis living near the border recently asked the UN to intervene to end the crisis on behalf of both sides. And this week the international Freedom Flotilla announced the launch this fall of the Women's Boat to Gaza to "highlight the indomitable spirit of Palestinian women" in the diaspora, to honor Gaza women as "bastions of resistance and life," and to attempt to break the blockade in order to bring in humanitarian aid. Organizers concede this fourth flotilla, to be sailed by women only, will face the same challenges and risk as earlier attempts, but they stress, "For Palestinians living in Gaza, every day is a risky day."
Meanwhile, Gaza's conditions remain so bleak that even its estimated 1,200 Syrian Palestinian refugees, many from Yarmouk - which theUN has called "a death camp" - want to get out, even if it means returning to their former devastation. Often second-or-third-time refugees descended from those families originally displaced by Israel in 1948, these new victims who dreamed of returning to Palestine now find themselves "breadless," jobless and beleaguered, often living crammed together in rooms with no furniture and no prospects of a decent life. One woman says her family remains under siege in Aleppo, "but their hell is better than Gaza's paradise."
It is to "this accursed place" that an increasingly nationalist, vengeful Israel now seeks to banish to Gaza the hapless families of the perpetrators of a new surge of spontaneous lone-wolf "terrorist" attacks - mostly what Gideon Levy calls "the teenage girl with scissors and the teenage boy with a kitchen knife," attached to no political or military infrastructure and driven only by blind fury at their oppressors. The desperate assailants are usually executed on the spot by Israeli soldiers, or occasionally just arrested. Now Israel, in what it calls "a first-rate act of deterrence," seeks to further punish their families, by not just razing their homes but utterly uprooting them, because, "With the imprimatur of Israel’s judicial system, there is a collective punishment for everything." The move has garnered broad support among Israeli lawmakers, despite the fact that it would defy both Israeli and international law - an issue the Israeli Attorney General has raised, but which a long-truth-twisting Netanyahu has dismissed by arguing it's a matter of "interpretation." In a final irony noted by Levy, who has long passionately written about Gaza as "a stricken enclave," Israel's expulsions of families of perpetrators, clearly framed as punishment, would for the first time be an admission that Gaza is in fact a prison, "a penal colony of Israel, its very own Devil’s Island." The very existence of that prison, he adds, is the final proof that, "There is no military solution to nearly 50 years of despair."