U.S. and Wold Politics

class="storyheadline">Gaza: Hopelessness or Resistance?

By Juana Carrasco Martín

That is it, an almost rectangular strip, between Israel, the Egyptian Negev desert and the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Barely 365 km˛ in area, ten kilometers wide and a length—from Erez in the north to Rafah in the south—of 40 kilometers. To be precise, if it encountered no resistance in its path, an Israeli Merkava armored vehicle could travel through it in less than an hour. As a comparative idea, the city of Havana occupies an area of 728.2 km˛, practically double that of Gaza.

Since 2007, a 51 kilometer militarized border with Israel has surrounded it, a hermetic closure for the 2.3 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip—practically a million of them under 18 years of age—and most of them refugees, created by Israel’s expansion and wars.

This ongoing brutal aggression is the fifth military incursion against Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Also, since 2007, for the last 16 years, Tel Aviv has maintained a blockade of Gaza, by land, sea, and air, closed the border points it controls in Nahal Oz, Karni and Sufa, and left only the Erez controls open to its decision, and Kerem Shalom. On the 13-kilometer border with Egypt is the Rafah crossing, an escape valve that is not always open.

The Mediterranean Sea, Gaza’s other border, does not constitute a window of freedom, since all maritime traffic to and from Gaza is prohibited, although the Oslo Accords recognized the right to 20 miles of fishing in 1993. Israel, from its all-embracing and non-punishable power, reduced it to three miles in 2009, which reduced fishing capacity by more than 60 percent, which obstructed a vital food source, although in 2019 it stretched it to 12 miles in its central part and six miles in its northern and southern fringes. In these days of October 2023, the Palestinian port and fishermen were also bombed.

The purpose is to turn the Gaza Strip into an uninhabitable territory, many analysts point out, and as a consequence, 81 percent of its population lives below the poverty line and survives thanks to international humanitarian aid. In addition, 47 percent are unemployed—practically their only sources of work are in Israel, and they must have permission from the authorities to cross the only checkpoints that were open until the beginning of the new war.

Now, what has been a policy of intermittent retaliation has been fully implemented. “No electricity, no food, no fuel,” was the order of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. This implies that water is also scarce, and they drink contaminated or brackish water. On October 27, they began to turn off the possibilities of communication with the outside world, cutting off mobile phones and the internet for journalists and activists. The truth should not be known about this fifth war, which if not stopped could achieve its purpose of ruining and destroying a people.

It all comes together with the criminal bombings that are devastating entire neighborhoods and refugee camps. Yes, refugee camps, because Israel has practiced decades of expulsion of Palestinians and seizes their lands and villages. 71 percent of Gazans are refugees or descendants of displaced people, and a crux of Israeli Zionist practice is that the UN recognizes their right to return to the lands from which they were expelled since 1948, when, one day, a Palestinian state is established.

And the Strip, whose population density is 5,500 inhabitants per square kilometer, is much more than the city of Gaza, whose antiquity, with that same name, dates back thousands of years. It was probably founded in the year 1500 BC.

The Gaza Strip consists of five parts: North Gaza, Gaza City, Deir el-Balah, Khan Yunis and Rafah. In Northern Gaza, which extends for ten kilometers, we must mention the Erez or Beit Hanun crossing and the Jabalia refugee camp, the most populated in the Strip.

In Gaza City, the largest and most populated, there are the well-known neighborhoods of Rimal (where the al-Shifa hospital is located,) Shujaiya and Tel al-Hawa. The largest agricultural producing district of Deir el-Balah is also the location of four refugee camps: Nuseirat, al-Bureij, al-Maghazi and Deir el-Balah. On its border with Gaza City is the only power plant, paralyzed due to lack of fuel.

About 430,000 people live in Khan Yunis, and in its center is the refugee camp of the same name, where about 90,000 people live. In the south, there is Rafah, with a population of approximately 275,000 inhabitants, at its border crossing there are trucks with humanitarian aid that Israel barely allowed to pass through in dribs and drabs, when 500 trucks of international aid and necessary merchandise crossed daily.

Having made this brief socio-geographical presentation of what is rightly called “the largest open-air prison in the world,” the definition made by Bezalel Smotrich, Minister of Finance and head of the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party, is clear for Israel: “There are no the Palestinians, because Palestinian people do not exist. And he added, the Palestinian people are “an invention” devised in the 20th century to fight against Zionism, against people like him and his grandparents, who he claims are the “true Palestinians.” “I am Palestinian,” said Smotrich.

Then the choice is between dying or fighting for your rights, which includes peace.

Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.

Juventud Rebelde, November 4, 2023