‘The day after’ in Gaza, rest of Palestine

Sultan Barakat

After a brief hiatus of seven days in late November, Israel has resumed its punishing campaign of indiscriminate bombing in Gaza. This time, the majority of the strikes are hitting the South of the besieged Strip, where about 1.8 million Palestinians are currently trapped, many of whom were forced to move from the North following Israeli evacuation orders.

As if from the depths of an Orwellian dystopia, Israel’s war cabinet, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has created a map dividing Gaza into 620 separate plots, supposedly to be used by Palestinian civilians to avoid getting caught in “active war zones”.

Netanyahu has also designated, with complete disregard for international law, a plot of land smaller than London’s Heathrow Airport as a “humanitarian area” and suggested Gaza’s entire population of 2.3 million should eventually go there.

What does this tell us about Netanyahu’s plans for the day after the war?

The Egyptian authorities have publicly stated their fear that the aim of Netanyahu’s war is not to “eradicate Hamas” but to make Gaza uninhabitable so that the Palestinians living there are forced to abandon their homes and leave for good – a second Nakba in the making.

However, I believe Netanyahu’s actual plan for post-war Gaza is different but equally sinister – he is gearing up to repeat a historical crime his country committed against the Palestinian people, but that crime is not necessarily the Nakba.

After severing the link between Gaza and the West Bank, over the years Israel gradually divided the West Bank into smaller, disconnected plots. This made it much easier for Israel to continue stealing Palestinian territory with impunity. (In fact, since October 7, with the global community’s attention firmly fixated on Gaza, Israel has sped up the expansion of its illegal settlement project in the West Bank, and began to openly arm fanatic settlers.)

If Netanyahu has his way, what has happened to the West Bank will also happen to Gaza. Initially, the Strip will be split into three or more smaller entities with Israeli controlled “buffer zones” in between. Then the settlers will come in and start claiming more and more territory, leaving Palestinians divided and stuck in tiny, walled-in enclaves with no hope for the future.

Of course, as he moves to mutilate Gaza in the same way Israel mutilated the West Bank over the past few decades, Netanyahu appears to be ignoring a crucial factor: the Palestinian will to survive and resist. This time, they will be fighting an existential fight, on the rubble of their destroyed homes and the graves of their killed kin, with nothing left to lose. They will not accept their fate quietly.

An unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe is in the making. Israel’s collective punishment of the besieged population of Gaza has already killed more than 18,200 people, including at least 7,700 children. Israel’s apparent plans to carve Gaza into pieces will only bring on more suffering, and violence.

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