Debate on whether Israel will allow a seaport in Gaza is an Israeli tactic to distract from the origin of Gaza’s suffering: Israeli occupation.
Anticipation of a fourth Israeli war on Gaza has all but disappeared this week as talk of breakthroughs or even an easing of the siege has taken its place.
Numerous news reports from both Israel and Hamas debated the possibility of negotiations clearing the way for the construction of a seaport in Gaza. Concern about a looming war was replaced with concern about the practicalities of building a port in Gaza: Where would the seaport be? On a Gaza beach? A pier directed toward the Port of Limassol in Cyprus? Or a port similar to what Israel has in Ashdod? The Israeli media indicated through detailed reporting, complete with descriptions and pictures of possible approaches to building such a seaport, the seriousness of the suggestion.
This speculation, however, ended when Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of Israeli government activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, stated that there are no negotiations with Turkey to establish a seaport in Gaza. In any event, he added, if Israel decides to consider such a proposal in the future, it would be through the Palestinian Authority.
Mordechai's statement reflects the complexity of current Turkish-Israeli talks to ease relations between the two sides, as well as the absence of Egypt in Gaza’s plight. It also demonstrates the position of many authorities in Israel – that is: if any seaport is built in Gaza, it will be founded on self-serving Israeli conditions. Current discussions on the seaport reveal Israel’s ongoing will to keep the Palestinian people divided, complete the “Emirate of Gaza” (i.e. neutralize resistance in Gaza via neoliberal economics) and permanently isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
The Gazan public understands that talk of a Gaza seaport is an Israeli tactic. By talking about Gaza’s economic and social crises, Israel is able to emphasize humanitarian dilemmas and thus backhandedly obfuscate the origin of Gaza’s crisis: the occupation as a political tool. In discussing the port, the political dimension of the conflict, between occupiers and resistance, is lost. In light of the Third Intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Israel attempts to address social demands in order to detract from the Palestinian goal of liberation.
Talk of a Gaza seaport will continue, as will Israeli preparations for war.
But, despite the fact that Gaza residents have been through three Israeli wars, there is still absolutely nothing they can do to prepare for the onslaught or ensure a better chance of survival. While the military and political echelons can analyze the consequences and lived-experiences of the previous wars, no theory can assist Gaza’s residents escape Israel’s next attack.