Utterances.net edited by Jalel Harchaoui.

23 December 2013

The illegally-occupied territory is often depicted as having been liberated in 2005
A look at the legal status of the Gaza Strip
by Jalel Harchaoui.
Even according to Israeli legal expert Yoram Dinstein, international-law Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University, the occupation of the Gaza Strip was never interrupted in 2005.
A look at the legal status of the Gaza Strip

Pr. Yoram Dinstein.

On 09-Jul-13, the Financial Times wrote that “Gaza’s 1.7 million residents [have been] boxed in by Israel’s restrictions on trade imposed after Hamas’ rise to power in [Jan.] 2006.” As far as conservative newspapers go, the FT usually is relatively accurate in its depiction of U.S./Israeli policies, but the above statement is just a myth. Gazans have been “boxed in” for over 46 years. Outside of Israel, Western newspapers ofter claim that Tel Aviv, really, tried to liberate Gaza in Aug. 2005 by ordering 8,000 illegal settlers out and transferred into the West Bank. But, alas, “a terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction […] controls Gaza” (Ministry for Strategic Affairs official quoted by the WSJ, 08-Dec-12). Similarly, on 06-Feb-08, the New York Times wrote “the strip […] is controlled by Hamas.” No it is not; the only entity that “controls” the strip is Israel. The phrase has become almost ubiquitous; but it is misleading.

Let’s have a look at what a conservative Israeli international-law expert, Yoram Dinstein, has to say about 2005’s so-called “Israeli withdrawal from Gaza”. “Notwithstanding the unilateral withdrawal [of 10-Aug-05] and the [formal] handover of the administration of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, Israel has not lost or relinquished diverse core ingredients of effective control. The Gaza Strip, which is largely surrounded by Israel, has been subjected to some form of siege—by air, by sea and incompletely by land […] When all this is tallied up […] it should be palpable that the occupation cannot be viewed as over [in Aug. 2005]” (The International Law of Belligerent Occupation, 02-Mar-09, Cambridge University Press).

The occupation, which began on 05-Jun-67, has never been interrupted. Not for a minute. One can have sympathy for the Palestinians or one can nurture intense hatred for them, that’s not the issue. Fact is, The Gaza Strip has been illegally occupied since 04-Jun-67, on a non-stop basis. There hasn’t been any let-up ever since, contrary to what is systematically affirmed in Western commentary.

One must go inside Israel to get more accuracy. When a territory is under siege, it is an occupation, Dinstein reminds us indeed. Gaza’s occupation status was already the case even before Jan. 2006, at which point the Palestinians there became—additionally—prevented from fishing, from gaining access to cement, from importing toilet paper or macaroni “owing to safety concerns”, etc.

Even before the territory was turned into a bona fide open-air prison, it was already under illegal occupation—including between Aug. 2005 and Jan. 2006.

Within the last 72 hours or so [Dec. 2013], a bomb killed 11 in Egypt, massacres took place in South Sudan, Pakistan, and many other regions in the world. So why post about the Gaza Strip? Because the toughened-up version of the siege is still ongoing; and most people around the globe accept it as a fact of life. We in industrialized countries are led to believe that those 1.7 million human beings kind of asked for it; that the current phase of the occupation came about “as a result of” the Jan. 2006 elections. That is all false.

~ Jalel Harchaoui.