Gaza Will Become Uninhabitable by 2020

By Ramona Wadi

After dire warnings regarding the possibility of Gaza becoming uninhabitable by 2020, a recent report by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) has insisted upon an “urgent need to resolve the deepening political rift between Gaza and the West Bank”. Far from advocating alternatives, however, the report avails itself of the typical UN tactic which details the ramifications of colonialism and offers only the option of stagnation in the form of the two-state compromise.

It should not come as a surprise that the report’s executive summary deems it worthy to mention that 2017 “marks 10 years since the 2007 Hamas take-over of the Gaza Strip”. Albeit refraining from blatant accusation, the overview mentions Hamas as the first cause of impact, followed by “Israeli closures, the Palestinian division and the recurrent conflicts.” Once the dissociation is dealt with, the rest of the report reads as a competent exercise in observation interspersed with intentionally misleading commentary.

As always, the report excels in describing the humanitarian disaster engulfing Gaza, particularly when it comes to displacement, a near-absence of basic necessities such as water and electricity and the incessant restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. UNSCO mentions education as one of the areas in which Gaza continues to excel, despite limitations, with the literacy rate in Gaza rising to 97 per cent in 2016. Yet, education facilities cannot adequately accommodate the number of students in primary education – it is estimated that 369 new schools were constructed in the past decade. Again, associating the lack of schools with Hamas jeopardises an awareness of Gaza as an enclave that has been particularly targeted by Israel due to its resilience. On the other hand, UNSCO has no qualms about using convenient euphemisms when discussing the damage and destruction of schools in Gaza. The “escalations of hostility” phrase provides perfect impunity for Israel’s intentional targeting of Gaza’s educational facilities.

Further disparity is portrayed in two sentences within paragraphs of each other. “In the absence of a political horizon, efforts to enhance economic growth are even more critical to the realisation of an independent Palestinian state.” The statement is followed by the UN adage of being: “ready to work alongside the international community to assist the parties in efforts to strengthen the foundation for the realisation of the two-state solution.”

The international community’s concept of accountability and responsibility consists of projecting blame upon the marginalised. Hence the feasibility, within UN parameters, of advocating for the two-state paradigm and temporary humanitarian alleviation measures while Gaza deteriorates further. As much as the UN may thrive upon regurgitating obsolete requirements, the same cannot be said of Palestinians. Asserting any purported “will” to realise the two-state imposition normalises Israeli violence and the ensuing humanitarian consequences which have led to these periodic reports.

In addition to recognition of Gaza’s implosion, UNSCO must also acknowledge its political bias. In addition to recognition of Gaza’s implosion, UNSCO must also acknowledge its political bias. In the forthcoming years, owing to the disastrous consequences as a result of Operation Protective Edge, 2014 will continue to serve as a premise for the ramifications suffered by Palestinians in Gaza. Israel, together with the international community, must be mentioned as the instigators. In ten years, Hamas’s evolution from resistance movement to government happened as a result of Israel’s political violence and the necessity to articulate, as well as assert, a political alternative. Scapegoating Hamas for the purpose of embellishing official reports is an invitation for Israel to inflict further premeditated restrictions that will fulfill the UN’s previous prediction of an uninhabitable enclave.