Demographic, Environmental,
Security Issues Project

NOTE: The following are selections from an article in Middle East International ( 20 October 1995), by Michael Jansen summarizing some of the key points made by Dr. Sara Roy in her recently published book on Gaza. Her book, "The Gaza Strip: the political economy of de-development" was published by the Institute of Palestine Studies, Washington, D.C. and I.B. Tauris, London, 1995; L18.95

"Israel and Gaza: undeveloping a territory"

by Michael Jansen

"Sara Roy's new book slays once and for all the myth that Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has been, as some Israelis claim, `benevolent' or `benign'. While describing the devastating consequences of this occupation, the author demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the Israelis always had malign intentions towards the Palestinians they occupied in 1967."

"The author ... the daughter of Holocaust survivors ... argues successfully that the relationship between Israel and Gaza `is characterized by an economic process specific to Israeli rule', the proce ss of `de-development' or the `deliberate, systematic deconstruction of an indigenous economy by a dominant power'. Underdevelopment, the situation prevailing in much of the Third World, is distinguished from `de-development' by both the intentions of the occupying power and the consequences of its policies.

"`De-development,' she asserts, `commenced only under Israeli occupation.' In Gaza's long historical experience of occupiers, Israel was unique in that its intention was the complete dispossession of the Palestinian people and the assimilation of their land and resources. As a consequence, Israel's policies have always been designed to deprive the Palestinians of their land, water and labour w ith the objective of building Israel and not a competing Palestinian entity...."

"...The Gaza coastal strip covers only 27 per cent of the territory of the old mandatory Gaza sub-district, yet in 1948 this narrow piece of land had to house not only the entire population of the di strict but also tens of thousands of refugees from the central coastal towns of Jaffa and Haifa and much of southwest Palestine. The indigenous population of 70,000 was swamped by some 250,000 who fled. Although Gaza had a population of over half a million at the time of the Israeli occupation, the Israelis were not deterred from planting settlements in the Strip and appropriating 40 per cent of its land and more than half of its water. Today 850,000 Palestinians live in the self-rule enclave -- which comprises only 60 per cent of the area of the Gaza Strip -- one of the world's most den sely populated locations.

"Once installed in the Strip, Israel pacified the resistant populace and then set about Gaza's deconstruction by expropriating the land and water, integrating certain categories of the Gaza labour force into the Israeli economy and dismantling the existing economic infrastructure. The Palestinians were thus subjected to a particularly pernicious form of `settler colonialism' and de-development. For instance, Israel denied to Palestinian towns and villages the roads, running water and electricity supplied to all Israeli settlements in the territories....Gaza's schools, hospitals and welfare services were not expanded to meet the demands of the growing population. And Israel shut down all the Arab banks in the territories and prohibited Israeli banks from granting investment loans to Palestinians."

"Sara Roy quotes Yitzhak Rabin, who in 1985, while defence minister, said: `There will be no development in the occupied territories initiated by the Israeli government, and no permits given for expanding agriculture and industry which may compete with the state of Israel.'"

"Dr. Roy argues convincingly that Israel's intentions and policies have not been changed by the peace process, the signing of the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestine National Authorit y, and that Israel can be expected to restrict and obstruct the economic development of the Palestinian self-rule enclaves....Israel also blocks the sale in Israel of cheap Gazan and West Bank farm produce and prevents its export to Jordan.

"The reason Israel continues to follow such policies, Dr. Roy asserts, is that it has not yet renounced its claims on or sovereignty over Gaza and the West Bank. Until (and if) Israel takes this drastic step, she believes `de-development will continue' because the Oslo Accords have not altered the basic relationship between occupier and occupied."

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