INFRASTRUCTURAL AND MILITARIZED CARTOGRAPHY OF GAZA / 2014
RELATED ARTICLE TEXT:
As the military siege on Gaza (the fourth since the 2005 evacuation of the Israeli settlers) continue to kill every day (81 Palestinian killed in bombings so far), I go back, once again to the idea that we should as much focus on the exceptional violence that affects many of us emotionally, as on the normal violence that unfolds itself on a daily basis upon what has been legitimately named “the largest prison on earth (1.65 millions inhabitants). Let it be clear, making maps won’t save any life, and the production of knowledge during urgent situation is always problematic. Moreover, maps tend to be disincarnated and therefore carry the risk of a desensitization on the contrary of photographs and/or videos that allow us to identify with situated bodies. There is therefore a need for articulating the emotional approach to violence — it manifests most of the time through the notion of spectacular — with a more structural and analytical approach of it, as I have been recently writing again.
This map can be put in relation with the three articles I have written during the last siege, “Operation Pillar of Cloud” in November 2012. The first one was introducing a map that I did in a similar concern of sensitivization. This map was one of “the Manhattan Strip” (only 4-times smaller than the Gaza strip) under siege like Gaza was at that time. The second one was describing Gaza as a scale-1 experiment for the Israeli government and army to test how little can the strip be fed in power, water, supplies, etc. without triggering an actual “humanitarian disaster.” Finally, the third article was trying to think how a Gaza kid could picture Israelis since the only ones (s)he have seen in her/his life were soldiers or machines.
The map above attempts to show at the same level the militaristic and infrastructural aspects of Gaza. This representation strategy is used precisely to demonstrate that a drone attack and the closing of a power supply and/or an access to Gaza both constitute an act of war. Their difference is only in terms of degrees, not in terms of essence. The spectacular military destructions of houses and the lives that they host that currently occur are particular for their extreme, yet localized violence, while the infrastructural violence experienced in daily life (power outages, lack of water, unemployment, restriction of movement, etc.) are admittedly less extreme, yet affect the lives of most people in Gaza.
The infrastructural violence joins the militarized one in the case of the hospital. Many deaths during the bombings would be avoided if Gaza’s hospitals were supplied in essential drugs (they currently miss 40% of them). Whether the strategy of creating as few wounded as possible (i.e. as many dead as possible) is deliberate or not by the Israeli army, the fact is that the deadly attack often finds a second wave in the absence of possible care in the hospitals. Inversely, the militarized violence joins the infrastructural one along the Green Line. The 100-yard no-go zone is enforced by armed observation towers and high-tech remote-controlled machine guns. The next 300 yards are only accessible by authorized farmers whose fields are situated within it, and the following 1000 constitute the self-explanatory “Risk Zone,” heavily monitored and controlled by the Israeli army.
The two last types of areas characterized by the map are the camps that host more than 520,000 Palestinian refugees in dense urban fabric, and the former Israeli settlements. The latter were evacuated in 2005 by the Sharon administration, and destroyed by the Israeli army in order to leave no infrastructures beneficial to the Palestinians (some of them had been offered for sale to them at prohibitory prices). The location of these settlements are thus characterized by the tracks of their roads and theirs houses that will probably remain anchored in the ground for decades to come.
No words nor drawings can describe the situation of being attacked from the air without any means for escape: the Egyptian border has been operative on and off since the 2011 revolution and has been closed since November 2013. The only reason that we should keep writing and drawing the conditions of this violence is that the attacks on the Palestinian people (whether in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, or in Gaza) are themselves organized around words and drawings through governmental policies and military strategies. There is therefore a need to expose them in order to critique them at a political and judiciary level. This is what the operative research council Forensic Architecture has been doing these last years, and what we will examine in a forthcoming article.
SOURCES USED FOR THE MAP:
– UNOCHA: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_access_and_closure_map_december_2012.pdf
– UNRWA: http://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/gaza-strip/camp-profiles?field=1
– JERUSALEM FUND: https://www.flickr.com/photos/43054072@N06/8199488829/sizes/h/in/photostream/
– ALJAZEERA: http://ajinteractive.businesscatalyst.com/GazaLifeofSiegeJazeera/index.html
– UNOCHA: http://thefunambulistdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/59dec-gazapowermap.jpg
– VISUALIZING PALESTINE: https://img.4plebs.org/boards/pol/image/1389/61/1389617600789.jpg
– GUARDIAN: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/10/israel-gaza-conflict-prompts-emergency-un-security-council-meeting-live-updates