In the Israel-Palestine conflict, urban planning is the ultimate weapo

i 1 90640935 israel palestine and the weaponization of urban planning

On Might 21, a ceasefire was agreed to between Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, placing an finish to a bloody 11-day battle. Regardless of the relative calm that has ensued, the violence of those previous weeks throughout Israel-Palestine has unveiled distinct urban fronts.

The battle was triggered in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in the Previous Metropolis of Jerusalem. It took maintain of the Israeli so-called mixed cities, comparable to Jaffa and Lod/al-Lidd, and engulfed Gaza, the place Israeli air raids retaliated in opposition to the rockets Hamas fired on cities together with Tel Aviv.

For some, this felt like civil war. As our analysis demonstrates, these urban frontlines reveal how urban planning itself is weaponized.

Throughout the territory, cities and cities are managed and demographically engineered by the state. This happens on either side of the Inexperienced Line (the 1949 ceasefire boundary between the West Financial institution and Israel, which Israel rejects as indefensible), in the West Financial institution itself and in the Gaza Strip. More and more seen as an apartheid regime, the authorities’s aim all through is to encourage Jewish growth and prohibit Palestinian development.


The Jewish settlement of Ariel, close to the West Financial institution metropolis of Nablus. [Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images]

The blended metropolis

Heterogeneity is a primary urban situation. The time period “mixed city,” extensively utilized in Israel to explain an urban conglomeration occupied by Jewish and Arab communities, suggests a diversified and well-integrated society.

The fact, nonetheless, is that Jewish and Arab residents are divided – each spatially and socially – by an ongoing Judaisation of the territory. The state equipment is actively spreading Jewish populations whereas dispossessing Palestinian populations.

This course of is rooted in Israel’s territorial and urban historical past. After the Palestinian Nakba (“the disaster”) and the institution of the Israeli state in 1948, the Palestinian residents who stayed turned a marginalized minority. A lot of their cities, in the meantime, have been reworked by Israeli Jewish town planners and residents.

The instance of Lod/al-Lidd is instructive. The 1948 struggle noticed 250 Palestinians killed in the metropolis and an additional 20,000 turn out to be refugees.

The Israeli Army Administration initially positioned the 1,030 individuals who remained below strict surveillance in an enclosed space often known as the Sakna. Town’s Palestinian homes and land, in the meantime, have been expropriated by the state, who redivided and rented them out to Jewish immigrants.

From the Nineteen Fifties, the state drew up a grasp plan for the metropolis, now often known as Lod. Intensive demolition (of the historic urban cloth) was adopted by intensive reconstruction (of modernist housing blocks, infrastructure and companies) to the advantage of Jewish immigrants. Palestinian housing and infrastructure wants, nonetheless, were overlooked.


Waves of internally displaced Palestinians have since settled in Lod, from Bedouins whose lands in the Triangle area have been expropriated to Palestinians expelled from Gaza and the West Financial institution for collaborating with the Israelis in the 1967 struggle. If solely 9% of the Lod inhabitants was Palestinian in the Nineteen Fifties, in the present day they account for nearly 30%.

The Israeli state, in its makes an attempt to manage what it phrases the “demographic balance” has continued to actively settle Jewish immigrants in the metropolis. It additionally helps a rising variety of settler organizations growing residential initiatives for Jews only. This is taking place in different blended cities too, together with Jaffa.

The divided metropolis

After the 1948 struggle, Jerusalem was divided by a walled border zone separating Israel from Jordan. When Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, the state proceeded to reshape the metropolis on each a territorial and a demographic level.

A large development program of Jewish settlements and neighborhoods pushed past the metropolis’s outer ring. Palestinian growth, nonetheless, was stifled. The state demolished housing, restricted Palestinian development, allowed unequal distribution of infrastructure (together with faculties, roads and sewage programs), and prevented Palestinian immigration to the metropolis.

Right now, East Jerusalem accommodates around 40% of the metropolis’s Jewish inhabitants, up from 4% in the early Nineteen Seventies. And supposedly impartial urban tendencies (privatization, gentrification) solely serve to additional include and control Palestinian urban space.

Even touristic planning is co-opted, as our analysis into the contested archaeological site of Silwan exhibits. Regardless of the truth that students agree there have been no archaeological finds proving the biblical king David’s presence, vacationers flock to the web site. The dig has seen a lot Palestinian property acquired in dangerous religion. The tourism business that has arisen round it, in the meantime, has state backing.

In Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods comparable to Sheikh Jarrah, real-estate disputes belie how the state makes use of the courts to additional its settler-colonial challenge. The latest violence was triggered, partly, by the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their houses in favor of the Jewish settler organisation Nahalat Shimon.

Israel’s violence is enacted by discriminatory land-use insurance policies, court docket rulings and planning methods. The goal is to take care of a solid Jewish majority in the city.

The disconnected metropolis

With the occupied territories of the West Financial institution and the Gaza Strip, the goal is to create well-connected Jewish settlements that hyperlink into one Israeli-controlled territory. Palestinian area, in the meantime, is an ever-shrinking territorial archipelago of disconnected enclaves.

Checkpoints and roadblocks prohibit Palestinian motion in the West Financial institution and keep its separation from the Gaza Strip which is, in itself, tightly managed by Israel.

Since 2007, the state has carried out an air, land and sea blockade, adapting the colonial effort to restrict Palestinian area right into a large-scale challenge, solely this time there are not any settlers.


As an alternative, with 2 million inhabitants, round 70% of whom are refugees, Gaza is considered one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Basic necessities (medicines, gas, meals and constructing supplies) are in fixed deficit. It is additionally considered one of the most polluted: 97% of its ingesting water is contaminated by sewage and salt.

This is along with Israel’s brutal destruction of Gaza’s pure assets and the built environment.

The Conversation

The Israeli state goals to broaden, join, and spend money on Jewish areas whereas dividing, shrinking and destroying Palestinian areas. Urban planning is used as an inherent a part of this endeavor, designing density, vulnerability, separation and displacement into the very cloth of Palestinian urban areas.

Irit Katz is a lecturer in structure and urban Research at the University of Cambridge and Haim Yacobi is a professor of growth planning at UCL. This text is republished from The Conversation below a Artistic Commons license. Learn the original article.