By Ramona Wadi
Gaza continues to make headlines, to no avail. It has become a putrid metaphor of unsustainability and the political actors responsible for the deprivation are content to allow the enclave to fester. Three years since “Operation Protective Edge”, 4,000 homes are still awaiting reconstruction and 1,500 other dwellings are in need of construction work.
Ma’an news agency has given an overview of the current situation, which indicates that there has barely been any progress since 2016, when half the dwellings were awaiting reconstruction. The report referred to Jamal Al-Khudari, head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, insisting that funders should “fulfil their ethical and legal commitment to the Palestinians still homeless three years on”. Al-Khudari also called for a lifting of the siege on Gaza if the humanitarian situation is to be alleviated.
The words used by Al-Khudari should constitute an alarming alert. If lifting the siege can merely alleviate the humanitarian conditions of Gaza, it should speak volumes about the peril faced by Palestinians in Gaza. Three years ago, Israel exacerbated an already precarious situation. The Palestinian Authority, in its miscalculated authoritarian move, imposed further hardship by isolating Gaza financially. Within this timeline, the UN issued several warnings about Gaza becoming uninhabitable by 2020, yet no action was taken to reverse this prediction. All the UN achieved was the creation of a phrase steeped in alarm and providing material for dramatic quoting. Beneath the surface, there is a divide between what Palestinians need and what the international community is aiming for. For the latter, the survival of Palestinians is definitely not a priority.
Bureaucracy is commonly cited as one of the reasons for the delays in reconstruction, compounded by Israel’s restrictions on allowing construction material to enter Gaza. Yet, there was no attempt to alter this flawed mechanism which was criticised on occasions. Neither was there any opposition to Israel’s restrictive measures compounding Palestinian internal forced displacement. The international community may thrive upon Gaza’s misery and dead or displaced Palestinians will only increase the international institution’s power.
If there is one thing that the international community should be held accountable for, it is for aiding Israel in its slow extermination of the Palestinian people. The 2020 timeframe touted by the UN is a direct reflection of Israel’s policies which contains no opposition apart from futile condemnation. To uphold Israel’s security, the international community has aided Israel in forcing Palestinians to lose theirs, first through colonial conquest and expansion; now through practices that have incarcerated Palestinians within a space that is unable to cater for their needs.
Since there is an absence of discussion about a solution, it is clear that delays are merely maintaining the rhetoric which might, eventually, confirm the UN’s prediction. Israel would celebrate; the UN would reiterate its clichéd phrase, while the PA and Palestinian factions would embroil themselves further in collaboration and dispute respectively. It is time to at least contemplate the meaning behind another commonly used phrase – “to move fast” – ostensibly to save Palestinians in Gaza. In the context of Israel’s colonial tactics, where everything is defined by convenience instead of meaning, moving fast may well describe the passive attitude that accelerates Israel’s slow extermination plans.