Hell’s architects

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GAZA wasn’t always what it is today. Gaza wasn’t always a giant prison that has now been transformed into a death camp; a hellscape of broken bodies and buildings and butchered babies.

Before 1948, Gaza was a wealthy territory in Mandatory Palestine. Located on the coast, it benefited from trade and fishing and was also blessed with fertile land, which led to a strong agricultural economy. Then came the Nakba, with Zionist terror militias — which later coalesced into the Israeli army — killing, looting and raping across the territory. The first Arab-Israeli war saw Egypt occupy the territory, which remained in Egyptian control even after Israel prevailed in the conflict as part of the treaty that ended the war.

For a brief period during the Suez crisis, when Israel, France and the United Kingdom jointly attacked Egypt, and Israel occupied both the Sinai and the Strip, Egyptian military rule continued till the 1967 war, which saw the comprehensive defeat of the Arab armies and the military occupation of the Strip by Israel. The usual formula of apartheid and Jewish settlements — under the guard of the Israeli army — began, and continued until 2005, when Israel’s then prime minister Ariel Sharon withdrew its forces and dismantled the settlements. This is presented by pro-Zionist circles as a magnanimous step towards peace that was ‘typically’ spurned by the Palestinians, but it is instructive to see what the actual architects of that move had in mind.

Israeli geo-strategist Arnon Soffer is considered to be the originator of the separation and withdrawal plan, and he is clear that Israel underwent this process not out of a desire for peace — a word he says he despises — but because the alternative would be the end of Israel as a Zionist state with Jewish supremacy as its cornerstone, because — if Gaza were to be integrated into Israel proper — the Jews would eventually be outnumbered.

For many Israelis, Gaza is just the start.

And so, it was considered better to fence Gaza off from the world, with that fence eventually becoming a wall and with everything going in and out being at the whim of the Israeli authorities. The minimum daily caloric intake for a human being to survive on was calculated so that the average Gazan permanently remained on the brink of starvation.

This too was by design, because as Soffer himself says in a 2004 interview with Jerusalem Post titled ‘It’s the demography, stupid’: “It’s a fence that we will be guarding on either side. Instead of entering Gaza, the way we did last week, we will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won’t allow their husbands to shoot Kassams, because they will know what’s waiting for them.”

Soffer knew the consequences, and welcomed them. He continues: “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of … fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day … If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.”

When asked what the end result of all this killing would

be, Soffer says: “The Palestinians will be forced to realise that demography is no lon­ger significant, becau­­se we’re here and they’re there. And then they will begin to ask for ‘conflict management’ talks — not that dirty word ‘peace’. Peace is a word for believers, and I have no tolerance for believers — neither those who wear yarmulkes nor those who pray to the God of peace.”

For Soffer and those who agree with him — the majority of Israelis one would presume — Gaza is just the start. He continues to say, a full 19 years before today’s ongoing atrocity: “The population increase of Israeli Arabs is going to present a major problem. But, if we no longer include the Palestinians, and we begin embracing immigrants, foreign workers, Druze, and Christians — who are now on our side, because they see what … radical Islam is — then there won’t be an Israeli Arab problem. While we’re on the subject, you tell me what you need East Jerusalem for. Why do you need 300,000 Arabs as Israeli citizens? What’s holy there? Anything that is holy we should annex.”

This has always been the plan and now it is one step closer to fruition.

The writer is a journalist.

X: @zarrarkhuhro

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023

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