Israel’s “One of a Kind” New Apartheid Wall to Choke Gaza: A Triple-Layered Sea Barrier

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Whatever one’s opinion may be about the ongoing Israeli dispossession of the people of Palestine and the crippling siege of the Gaza Strip, one can’t fault Tel Aviv for lacking originality.

Such unique means of choking off the Palestinians’ ability to live as normal human beings will be on full display with a new $833 million sea barrier being erected: it will include a submarine barrier, a stone wall, and a layer of barbed wire that will be surrounded by an additional fence.

Hardline Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described the barrier as a “one of a kind in the world” measure that protects the occupation “with power and sophistication” and prevents the people of Gaza from entering Israeli-controlled territory by sea.

היום התחלנו בהקמת מכשול ימי יחיד מסוגו בעולם, שיחסום את האפשרות לחדור מעזה לישראל דרך הים. זה סיכול נוסף לחמאס שיאבד עוד יכולת אסטרטגית, שבפיתוחה השקיע סכומי עתק. נמשיך להגן על אזרחי ישראל בעוצמה ובתחכום.

— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) May 27, 2018

TRANSLATION | Today we began building a sea barrier one of kind in the world will block any possibility of entering Israel by sea. This further prevents Hamas, which is now losing another strategic asset after investing huge sums in its development. Will keep protecting Israel’s citizens with power and sophistication.

The construction of the novel “sea wall” was ordered during the Israeli military onslaught “Operation Protective Edge” of 2014, when Hamas resistance fighters penetrated the Israeli border by sea before being killed by occupation forces.

The barrier will be accompanied by the enhancement of the border fence sealing off the besieged coastal strip, including a massive underground barrier.


The ongoing deprivation of Gaza’s sea access

While the 1993 Oslo Accord permits Palestinians in Gaza to take part in fishing within the maritime corridor, which extends 20 miles from the coast, the Israelis began ignoring the agreement in 2000 and have typically limited vessels to a maximum of three to six miles – a blatant breach of the landmark agreement Tel Aviv signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Gazan fishermen venturing offshore generally risk death or injury for attempting to ply their trade, as generations of Palestinians have done before them, and are usually greeted by warning shots by Israeli naval forces or are simply fired upon.  Egypt has also restricted the activities of fishermen from Gaza.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian vessel carrying 17 students, patients, and wounded victims from the recent mass protests at the Gaza border was detained as it attempted to break the Israeli-imposed siege. The boat was transferred to the port of Ashdod, and had been accompanied by smaller vessels from Gaza before Israeli troops began opening fire on the seaborne assembly. The protest action came before the eighth anniversary of the deadly Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged ship that had attempted to enter Gaza by sea to deliver aid in defiance of the Israeli blockade.

Earlier today a boat from the Liberty Flotilla, carrying Palestinians seeking urgent medical treatment, attempted to sail to Cyprus and break the 12 year-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, but was intercepted by Israeli navy gun boats. [Video via Mohammed Kareem].

— The IMEU (@theIMEU) May 29, 2018


The occupation’s torment of Gaza

Following a failed 2007 coup attempt, backed by the Israelis and U.S., against the elected Hamas government, nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza have faced three devastating Israeli-initiated wars and a suffocating blockade.

Unimpeded by an international community that remains largely silent over Israeli crimes, Tel Aviv has also subjected the people of Gaza to numerous novel and experimental tools of repression and weapons delivery systems, including new unmanned systems and militarized methods of spatial control.

As Palestinian-American historian and former adviser to PLO negotiators Rashid Khalidi explained in 2014:

Israel has besieged, tormented, and regularly attacked the Gaza Strip. The pretexts change: they elected Hamas; they refused to be docile; they refused to recognize Israel; they fired rockets; they built tunnels to circumvent the siege; and on and on.

But each pretext is a red herring, because the truth of ghettos — what happens when you imprison 1.8 million people in a hundred and forty square miles, about a third of the area of New York City, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen, no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day — is that, eventually, the ghetto will fight back. It was true in Soweto and Belfast, and it is true in Gaza.”

Top Photo | A student wrapped in a Palestinian flag walks over Israel’s apartheid wall between the West Bank and Israel in Abu Dis during a protest Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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