About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Israel showed restraint in Gaza before attacking? You must be kidding

Israeli media ingrains warped teminology that bolsters the effort to portray Israel as a victim. Here are a few examples.

by Amira Hass    14 July 2014          Haaretz

Palestinians stand next to the rubble of a destroyed building, Gaza Strip, on July 12, 2014.

Palestinians stand next to the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli air strike in Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 12, 2014. Photo by AFP

“Gaza is an independent state.”

It is not. It and the West Bank are a single territorial unit composed of two parts. According to the international community’s decisions, a state shall be established in these two parts, which are still under Israeli occupation, as are the Palestinians who live there.

Gaza and the West Bank have the same international area code — 970. (The separate code is an empty gesture left over from the Oslo period. The Palestinian phone system is a branch of the Israeli one. When the Shin Bet security service calls a house in Gaza to announce that the air force is going to bomb that house, the Shin Bet doesn’t have to dial 970).

With his colonialist guile and skills he acquired from Mapai, the precursor to Labor, Ariel Sharon removed the settlers from the Gaza Strip. Via another form of domination, he tried to cut the enclave off for good from the West Bank. The effective control of the sea, air, borders and much of Gaza remains in Israel’s hands.

And yes, Hamas and Fatah, motivated by their factional struggle, have significantly contributed to the disconnect between the two parts. With its propaganda, Hamas has bolstered the illusion of Gaza’s “independence.”

Meanwhile, Israel still controls the population registry for Gaza and the West Bank. Every Palestinian newborn in Gaza or the West Bank must be registered with the Israeli Interior Ministry (via the Coordination and Liaison Administration) to be able to obtain an ID card at age 16.

The information typed into the cards is also in Hebrew. Have you ever heard of an independent state whose people must register in the “neighboring” (occupying and attacking) state — otherwise they won’t have documents and won’t officially exist?

When experts like Giora Eiland, a retired general who helped plan the Gaza disengagement, say Gaza is an independent state that’s attacking us, they’re trying to expunge the context of this round of bloodshed. That’s a pretty easy task. Israelis have already done this.

Both sides (Hamas and Israel) say they are firing in self-defense. We know that war is a continuation of politics by other means. Israel’s policy is clear (if not to consumers of Israeli media): Cut Gaza off even more, thwart any possibility of Palestinian unity and divert attention from the accelerating colonialist drive in the West Bank.

And Hamas? It wants to boost its standing as a resistance movement after the blows it took as a governing movement. Maybe it really thinks it can change the Palestinian leadership’s entire strategy vis-a-vis the Israeli occupation. Maybe it wants the world (and the Arab states) to awaken from its slumber.

Still, with all due respect to Clausewitz, rational calculations are not the only explanation. Let’s not forget the missile envy — whose is bigger, longer, more impressive and reaches farther? The boys play with their toys and we’ve gotten used to calling it policy.

“Israel has shown restraint.”
Where does one begin to calculate restraint? Why not start with the fishermen who have been shot at, wounded and sometimes killed by the Israeli navy, even though the 2012 understandings talked about expanding the fishing zone?

Why not with the farmers and metal scavengers near the separation barrier who have no other income and are shot at and sometimes wounded and killed by soldiers? Or the demolition of Palestinian houses supposedly for administrative reasons in the West Bank and Jerusalem?

Don’t we call this restraint because this is violence that the Israeli media arrogantly overlooks? And why don’t we hear about the Palestinian restraint after Nadim Nawara and Mohammed Abu Dhaher were killed by Israeli soldiers at the Ofer checkpoint? “Restraint” is another term that expunges contexts and bolsters the sense of victimhood of the world’s fourth-mightiest military power.

“Israel supplies water, electricity, food and medicine to Gaza.”
It does not. It sells 120 megawatts of electricity at full price, at most a third of demand. The bill is deducted from the customs fees that Israel collects for goods passing through its ports destined for the occupied territories. Food and medicine that Palestinian traders buy at full price enter Gaza through the crossings under Israel’s control.

According to the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, in 2012, 1.3 billion shekels ($379 million) worth of Israeli products were purchased in the Gaza Strip. So Gaza is also a captive market for Israel.

As for water, Israel has imposed an autarchic water economy on Gaza; that is, Gazans must make do with rainwater and groundwater that collects in its territory. Israel, which imposes a water quota on the Palestinians, does not let them share the West Bank’s water sources with Gaza.

As a result, demand outstrips supply and there is over-pumping. Seawater seeps into the groundwater, as does sewage from decrepit pipelines. Ninety-five percent of Gaza’s water is not fit for drinking. And based on past agreements, Israel sells 5 million cubic meters of water to Gaza (a drop in the ocean).

“Israel only pinpoints legitimate targets.”
The houses of junior and senior Hamas members are being bombed — with and without children there — and the army says these are legitimate targets? Is there a Jewish home in Israel that does not shelter a commander who has helped plan or wage an offensive? Or a soldier who hasn’t shot at or will shoot at a Palestinian?

“Hamas uses the population as human shields.”
If I’m not mistaken, the Defense Ministry is in the heart of Tel Aviv, as is the army’s main “war room.” And what about the military training base at Glilot, near the big mall? And the Shin Bet headquarters in Jerusalem, on the edge of a residential neighborhood?

And how far is our “sewing factory” in Dimona from residential areas? Why is it all right for us and not for them? Just because they don’t have the phallic ability to bomb these places?


Dear world, let Gaza be!

Gaza is being bombed by the compasionate Jews, whose morality is light years ahead of the brutal Arabs.What irony: the Palestinians are driven from their homeland and attacked in the refugee camps, and the Jews boast of being more moral!

By  Jul. 14, 2014    Haaretz

O bleeding Gaza, how do you get through the night when the skies spit fire and brimstone? Gaza sighs beneath the weight of the tragedies it has borne on its narrow shoulders since 1948. A million refugees crammed into the area of a city neighborhood. The Israelis close it off, and the Egyptians seal it off. The Qataris, supported by the Americans, fund Hamas, their ally, which has decided to set Gaza light years back. This is Gaza, which the world shunned, and please don’t roll your eyes. What was sown in 1948 is being reaped now.

For now, it’s business as usual. Israel brings down buildings, on top of their occupants inside, while it cries “Help!” — a state under air attack, like Dresden or London in World War II. And while Palestinians are being killed — 30 a day, on average, Hamas broadcasts propaganda messages threatening the Jews — ridiculous films that are useless even to Israel’s well-oiled PR machine. How did the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish put it? – “Our voices are higher than our stature.”

At the Haaretz peace conference last week, Naftali Bennett warned of the dangers of the Islamic State. But who needs that Arab organization, when Bennett’s friends in the extreme right run amok, with calls for revenge that have lethal consequences? Who needs the Islamic State (formerly ISIS), when one of the most powerful armies in the world is obediently, and not without a certain messianic enthusiasm, realizing the hotheaded desires of the extreme right, with the aid of the best of the American death industry?

Now Gaza is subject to the bombardments of the compassionate Jews, whose morality is light years ahead of the brutal Arab morality. What a paradox: The Palestinians are expelled from their homeland and later attacked in the refugee camps to which they fled, and the Jews boast of being more moral. Go ahead and keep pounding the Palestinians if you want, but please stop talking about morality.

In Israel, Gazans are criticized for not leaving their homes during the air strikes. But where would they return to, to the ruins of their former homes? One Palestinian told the Al-Arabiya network that he wasn’t at home when the Israeli army called to warn him, and in the five golden minutes he was granted, he was unable to pass on the warning. So he survived, but without his five children. But Anas Kandil, 19, who wrote on his Facebook page: “Have mercy, God. I haven’t slept since yesterday. Let them bomb the house already and leave us be,” was relieved by Israel of his agony. He and his father were killed in an air strike.

Meanwhile it’s been forgotten that the one who started this escalation, after the kidnapping of the three teenagers, was Israel, when it killed Hamas activists. And we also forget that the day before Operation Protective Edge began, Israel killed nine Palestinians. All without any proof that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping.

Israel claims the Hamas spirit led to the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. If so, one could also say the spirit of the extreme right led to the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir of Shoafat. But instead of Hamas exposing the lie, its arrogance helps justify the Israeli offensive, in Israeli eyes at least. Hamas is ready to accept responsibility for every event that besmirches the Palestinian struggle.

So daily life for Israelis is also becoming untenable on account of the rocket sirens and falling missile fragments. Civilians have a right to live in peace and to raise their children without fear. No Israeli aggression justifies the firing of rockets at civilian targets. Even in these difficult times, humane principles, the basis of international law, must be followed.

In 1956 David Ben-Gurion, wished for Gaza to be swallowed by the sea. Yitzhak Rabin wished for it to drown. Now Gaza is cut off from the world under a tremendous blitz, watching its buildings be destroyed, burying its children. And with all that, it is called the source of the evil. Dear world, just let Gaza be