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Gaza is not a country, and so Israel is not protecting its borders

on 35 Comments

A BBC report published July 20, 2018 accepts the framing of killing of Palestinian civilians as a “defense of a borders.”  But Gaza is not a country, and so Israel cannot be protecting its borders.  Rather, Gaza is an enclave, an imprisoned neighborhood where its borders are controlled by Israel.  Israel decides who moves in and out of Gaza, which includes everyone from students and the sick, to foreign diplomats, to NGO workers. Israel controls what goods move in and out of Gaza.  All infrastructure and utility projects for water, electricity and gas etc., even if internationally funded are reliant on Israeli approval.  

Gaza is an enclave inhabited by Palestinians, most of whom are refugees.  Gaza does not have sovereignty, rather it is under occupation. As such, while Western media outlets like to portray this as a war, it is not. Under International law and conventions the occupying power first has a responsibility to those citizens under its control, which Israel has neglected completely.  Second, under international law those under occupation have a right to resist through whatever means available to them.

The controlling narrative of the two-state framework of the post-Oslo period engenders a purposefully confusing political context for Palestinians.  While the Agreement on Gaza Strip and Jericho Area 1994 explains that there will be disengagement from Palestinian territories, it simultaneously outlines all the ways in which Israel will maintain control, and as such sovereignty over these territories.

Outside actors pretend as if Palestine is a state, and thus they use phrases such as Hamas, they “run Gaza” (quoted from the aforementioned BBC article).  Hamas does not run Gaza. It receives its salaries from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah who withhold these salaries for their own purposes and for which there have been recent protests in the West Bank of Palestine.  Hamas has little control over the Gaza economy; they use the Israeli currency, the Shekel, and have no control over their own international trade.  Prior to the second-intifada many laborers, and still today many workers rely on laborers for work and to supplement their incomes. And Hamas certainly does not have control over Gazan borders, because there are no state borders in any legal, physical or economic sense. These are not borders militarily either.

So when Israel says that is it defending its borders, this language legitimizes its actions in the eyes of Western media outlets and governments.  It legitimizes a kind of warfare that makes sense to the European, American and Israeli viewers. The framing of borders suggests this is a war, and therefore Israel can claim that it is attacking military targets in the Gaza strip.  Israel can claim that it is defending its borders. These borders belong to Israel; it manages their daily activity, both militarily and through its civilian administration office, COGAT. It is Israel’s occupation and management of Gaza that has led its Palestinian inhabitants to march in protest.    

The BBC article contains plenty of language that maintains this mistaken framing: “Israel says it has only opened fire in self-defence, or on people trying to infiltrate its territory under the cover of the demonstrations.”  

Israel cannot claim infiltration, because it occupies Gaza. Gazan citizens are under full control of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli administration of this occupation. It cannot claim self-defence. While Israel and Western media want to claim that Hamas controls the attacks from Gaza, Hamas is under occupation just like the rest of Palestinians who reside in Gaza.  Hamas members are not allowed to leave Gaza without Israeli permission and they do not have sovereign control over Gazan territory.

The end of the BBC article quotes Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, “If Hamas continues to fire rockets then Israel will respond in a much tougher way than they think.”  

The BBC repeats a statement that could foretell the mass killing of a people who are denied the citizenship and rights of belonging to a state and yet are targeted and killed as if they did belong to a country at war with another.  Israeli language, which is accepted by media outlets maintains this limbo status, which allows it to continue its attack on Palestinians under the purposefully false pretense of defending borders. There are no borders in occupied territories.     

Aida Winfred

Aida Winifred is an Early Career Research Fellow for the Independent Social Research Foundation and a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London.

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35 Responses

  1. DaBakr on August 15, 2018, 6:55 pm

    Not that Gaza hasn’t gotten a bad shake since the Egyptian occupation and further with the former Israeli occupation and current dictatorship of the ‘democratically elected’ hamas now (except for the comparatively prosperous period of the 80s to disengagement) but this argument is as ridiculous as as saying israel can not engage in a military blockade, can not annex parts of jerusalem, in fact, can not even exist as a nation since it has no ‘border’. believe whatever one likes as they say, there are so many who don’t acknowledge that israel exists that one more ludicrous interpretation of so-called international law can’t hurt or help much

    • dionissis_mitropoulos on August 15, 2018, 9:01 pm


      You said:

      “current dictatorship of the ‘democratically elected’ hamas now”

      Your own Chief of the IDF has recognized that the Palestinian people support Hamas:

      ““Hamas has entered the people’s hearts. I would very much like to root it out, but people believe Hamas and identify with the movement”.

      I quote myself below from a relevant comment I made at Consortium News on May 21, 2018:

      Hamas has been calling for elections, Parliamentary and Presidential, because it is a democratic party:

      Hamas leader calls for fresh Palestinian elections

      It’s because Hamas is very popular. As the Chief of the Israel Defense Forces has conceded:

      “Hamas has entered the people’s hearts. I would very much like to root it out, but people believe Hamas and identify with the movement”.

      And as we learn from the Times of Israel:

      ” It is abundantly clear to all which is the dominant movement in Palestinian politics today[Hamas]”

      It is Israel that prohibits Palestinian elections, because its preferred kleptocratic dictator (Abbas), to whom Israel has outsourced the occupation in exchange for allowing him to run his kleptocracy at the expense of the Palestinian public, will certainly lose any election (70% of the Palestinian public want him ousted, because he is both corrupt and a collaborator of Israel). I quote from the Times of Israel:

      “The current Israeli government would likely not allow elections to be held in East Jerusalem if Hamas candidates were taking part.”

      So, we should be asking Israel to allow the Palestinian society to express itself in fair elections.
      Israel is indeed the only democracy in the region. It is because both Israel and the West support autocratic kleptocrats in Jordan, Egypt and Palestine, for the sake of Israel.
      Supporters of Israel, which is actively supporting Abbas the dictator, supporters of Israel which is destroying democracy in Palestine and influences Western governments to do the same, have no standing to talk about totalitarianism.
      And, at the end of the day, if Hamas is so oppressive as you say, why did Hamas win elections? And why is Israel so much afraid that even today, after all the punishments inflicted upon the Gazans for voting for Hamas, Israel is still afraid that Hamas will be reelected?
      Here is my suggestion, let’s start calling for fair elections in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine.

      • Rob Roy on August 16, 2018, 2:24 pm

        In your otherwise accurate comment, you say, “Israel is indeed the only democracy in the region,” likening it to other around it. No. Israel has never been, for even a second, a democracy. It never intended to be a democracy. [Turkey was, before Morsi and Erdogan, the only democracy in the region in that the military always supported the people; those days are gone.] From day one, the citizens of Palestine were not under democracy in Israel but treated brutally by the illegal Israelis. A democracy gives all citizens equal rights.
        [Even within it’s own laws made for its Jews, Israel is not a democracy…no single sex marriages allowed, for example, and mistreatment of the transgendered and LGBTs as well as deciding who can marry whom.]
        As Gideon Levy has said, Israeli Jews are three things: they believe that they really are 1. “god’s chosen children,” 2. superior to all others on earth, 3. and have the right to exterminate Palestinians since Arabs are less than animals and deserve no consideration as humans.
        Ugly. What’s uglier, the US and others aid and abet this dreadful regime and will until the other nations ‘gang up’ on those those reprobates and destroy their capabilities to do harm.
        This article points out the obvious and should be repeated regularly.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on August 16, 2018, 4:33 pm

        Hi Rob. Thanks for the response.

        When i said “Israel is indeed the only democracy in the region”, which is a standard Israel advocacy talking point, i wasn’t so much trying to state a fact, i was rather more concerned with stressing the hypocrisy of the Israel advocates who, in using this talking point, they invoke the fact that elections are held in Israel but not in neighboring countries. My response was meant to convey “Israel is the only country that holds elections because directly or indirectly Israel doesn’t let others hold elections, and therefore it is preposterous when advocates for Israel praise Israel for being taller than its neighbors when it is Israel that amputated the legs of its neighbors”.

        It goes without saying that Israel wouldn’t allow fair elections to be held in Palestine even if Abbas wanted to –he doesn’t, of course. And as for Egypt, Israel was quick to persuade Obama to support the Egyptian dictator Sisi after the coup:

        “Egyptian security forces have helped Israel enforce restrictions on the flow of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip and Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies have long shared information about militants on both sides of the border. Israeli officials were concerned in 2012 when Egypt, after its Arab Spring revolt, elected a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood to the presidency. The new president Morsi, pledged to respect the Camp David agreements. But the Israelis worried about the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideological kinship with Hamas and its historic hostility to the Israel. A year later, Mr. Sisi ousted Mr. Morsi in a military takeover. Israel welcomed the change in government and urged the US to accept it. That solidified the partnership between the generals on both sides of the border.

        I don’t know about Israel’s being a light unto the nations, but as far as democracy is concerned it certainly is a Blight unto neighboring nations.

        P.S. There was a bit of a problem with my quote from the New York Times, if you want to quote it elsewhere better copy-paste it from the New York Times directly, it might be a bit different — not in any essential way though.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on August 16, 2018, 4:49 pm

        I should have said “fair elections”. Egypt holds a variation of elections where candidates who might beat the dictator Sisi are not allowed to run:

        Egypt’s Sissi Runs for Re-election Unopposed – Opposition Either Arrested or ‘Intimidated’

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on August 16, 2018, 8:52 pm

        I also should have explained that the coup i was talking about was the coup of the Egyptian dictator Sisi who overthrew the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood –which was supportive of Hamas, hence the eagerness of Israel to persuade Obama to support the coup and the new strongman dictator of Egypt, Sisi

      • RoHa on August 16, 2018, 10:51 pm

        Rob Roy, I think I’ve mentioned this before, but democracy has nothing to do with marriage laws.

        Democracy is the idea of the government being chosen by and representative of the people. A democracy can, if such is the will of the people, make a law that only people born on a Tuesday can get married. The law will not stop it from being a democracy.

        An absolute monarchy or totalitarian dictatorship can, if such is the will of the monarch or dictator, make a law that anyone can marry anyone, as long as they don’t do it in the street and scare the horses. That will not make the state any more democratic.

        It is not Israel’s loony marriage laws that deny it the title of “democracy”.

      • CigarGod on August 17, 2018, 10:30 am

        Where do you draw the line on who is and who isn’t a democracy?

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on August 17, 2018, 11:01 am

        Hi Cigar. I haven’t thought adequately about it, so i have nothing of interest to say. The working concept i was using here was that something is a democracy if and only if it allows for more or less fair elections.

      • DaBakr on August 19, 2018, 3:41 am


        I didn’t say that we don’t recognize or understand that many palestinians prefer Hamas or that we don’t know that Abbas and his PLO pals(Hanan Ashwari included) runs a kleptocratic regime. I said the Hamas was a theocratic/militant dictatorship.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos on August 19, 2018, 10:58 am


        In your response to me you said:

        “I didn’t say that we don’t recognize or understand that many palestinians prefer Hamas …I said the Hamas was a theocratic/militant dictatorship.”

        No, you had uttered neither the word “militant” neither the word “theocratic”, nor did you imply them in any way whatsoever, I quoted you in full, all you had said was “dictatorship”, the militancy and the theocracy are your two new addenda.

        As for the militancy, yes, Hamas is a resistance organization, and it will keep being one as long as Israel does not give back to the Muslim world and to the Palestinians East Jerusalem, all of East Jerusalem, Western Wall included, Jewish neighborhoods included. Please see my comment about the importance of the Temple Mount in global Muslim consciousness here (response to commenter “brent”):

        As for the theocracy, are you sure you want to pursue this discussion when Israel self-describes as a Jewish state? What is that which makes Israel a non-theocracy and a hypothetical Palestinian state with Hamas in charge a theocracy? It seems to me that at best you can claim that such a Muslim state would be more theocratic than the Jewish state, but this would be a difference in degree, not in kind. My attitude is “live and let live” even if others want to live in religious states – though I don’t think it wise to organize society around either of the 3 monotheistic religions, because they have proved to be a source of lots of bloodshed and injustice . But then, militant atheism too, if it were to become more organized and mainstream, could prove to be as destructive, judging from the cockiness of some of its adherents. Live and let live, that’s what strikes me as the best attitude, though I’m an atheist.

        As for your response that Hamas is approved of by the Palestinian people (and your tacit recognition that Hamas would win free and fair elections if Israel and Abbas were to allow such elections) but that Hamas is still a dictatorship, i think we are playing with words here. Dictatorship entails non-consent, i.e. if there is consent by the people there is no dictatorship. The Palestinian people would vote for Hamas (if the West were not using aid to blackmail the Palestinian public) and Hamas is calling for elections, as you tacitly grant, therefore any use of the word “dictatorship” next to the word “Hamas” is more about smearing and advocacy than about serious discussion. I won’t hold it against you, though.

    • Talkback on August 16, 2018, 8:59 am

      DaBakr: “israel can not engage in a military blockade, can not annex parts of jerusalem,”

      Oh it can. But its blockade and annexations are illegal. The more relevant question is: Will Israel ever abide by international law?

      Palestinians are attempting to see Israel suspended from the UN. They won’t succed in the Security Council because of the veto of Israel’s bitch. But the General Assembly could prevent Israel from making speeches or participating in votes. Not that it really matters. Its speeches and votes never had any weight.

    • Misterioso on August 16, 2018, 11:07 am


      In 1988, the PLO recognized the entity known as “Israel” as a sovereign state within the borders of the 1947 recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan, Res. 181. “Israel” ignored the offer.

      By signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted UNSC Res. 242 and thereby agreed to recognize a SOVEREIGN ISRAEL within the 1949 armistice lines, i.e., as of 4 June 1967 – 78% of mandated Palestine. Although “Israel” agreed to Res. 242, it has refused to comply with its terms (e.g., the preamble, which governs all that follows: “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war….”) Indeed, ”Israel” has illegally annexed East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights, maintained its occupation of Lebanon’s Shebba Farms/Kfarshuba hills and in gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (e.g., “Collective Punishment”), turned the occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip into the world’s largest out door and impoverished prison.

      The PLO also agreed to the US/EU/UN supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers “Israel” full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor, equal and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if “Israel” complies with international law (e.g., the UN Charter, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, resulting Resolution 194 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.) Fully aware of “Israel’s” demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with “Israel’s” pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees (as determined by Walter Walter Eytan, then Director General of “Israel’s” Foreign Ministry) as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…” “Israel” also rejected this peace overture.

      On 16 June 2009, after meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Ismail Haniya, prime minister of Hamas’s Gaza Strip government, announced that “If there is a real plan to resolve the Palestinian question on the basis of the creation of a Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967 [i.e. 22% of historic Palestine as per 1949 armistice agreements] and with full sovereignty, we are in favour of it.” “Israel” ignored the offer.…
      “‘We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,’ Haniyeh said, referring to the year of Middle East war in which “Israel” captured East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. ” (Haaretz, December 1, 2010) No response from “Israel.”

      In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas again agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, “Israel” promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.
      “Senior Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews.’” By Nir Gontarz. March 28, 2018, Haaretz.

      As for the much touted 2000 Camp David Summit, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat’s throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then “Israel’s” foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.” (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

      The “offer” made in 2008 by then Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was never seen as serious because it lacked cabinet approval, he was under indictment with only a few weeks left in office, had a 6% favorable rating, and therefore, couldn’t have closed the deal even if the Palestinians had accepted it. (Olmert was imprisoned.)

      Unfortunately, “Israel’s “response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states has been an escalation of illegal settlement construction and accelerated dispossession and oppression of the indigenous Palestinians in their illegally occupied lands.

      Hence, “Israel” is in effect borderless and as such, it cannot be legally recognized by the international community as a state, a country or a nation.

      If we lived in a just world the entity known as “Israel” would have long since been expelled from the UN or a least, had its membership suspended.

      • DaBakr on August 19, 2018, 3:53 am


        And why on earth should we cede back land we won in a belligerent war without favorable terms that would make ceding land in our interest? that Arabs and arab nations all wanted to destroy Israel at that time and still, many do but no longer favor a military option and so what is offered that makes it worth more then the bs peace that won’t come without a legal end to the conflict. But sure, I understand your point of view. I know you don’t see things the way I do.

      • Maghlawatan on August 19, 2018, 2:59 pm


        Eretz Israël hashlemah is minority Jewish. You didn’t win in 1967. You lost. You lost Israel.

      • Talkback on August 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

        DaBakr: “And why on earth should we cede back land we won in a belligerent war without favorable terms that would make ceding land in our interest?”

        It may seem like it, but in this case DaBakr is not quoting a Nazi who talks about Poland. It’s just the same mentality.

      • Mooser on August 19, 2018, 7:18 pm

        ” I know you don’t see things the way I do.” “DaBakr”

        Don’t let it discourage you, “DaBakr”. Remember, there’s probably 2 maybe as many as 3 million people who see things the way you do.

  2. Jon66 on August 15, 2018, 9:50 pm

    The Palestinians believe that Gaza is part of the State of Palestine.
    Colombia just recognized this country which you say does not exist.

  3. Talkback on August 16, 2018, 9:06 am

    Jon66: “The Palestinians believe that Gaza is part of the State of Palestine.”

    Yep. As much as the Jews in Israel “believe” that Tel Aviv is part of the State of Israel.

  4. Jackdaw on August 16, 2018, 12:59 pm

    Gaza is an ‘enemy entity’.

    • Maghlawatan on August 16, 2018, 1:47 pm

      The real enemy is the trauma inside the head of every Jewish Israeli
      Gaza is normal. Israel is fucked up

      • Jackdaw on August 17, 2018, 2:14 am

        “Gaza is normal. Israel is fucked up”

        Cult Weiss, distilled to it’s very essence.

      • Maghlawatan on August 17, 2018, 4:54 pm

        The Jewish state can only keep things quiet by murdering people. Israel is a psychopathic version of Judaism.

      • DaBakr on August 19, 2018, 4:00 am

        @yeah, we are so fkd up that we’re begging for help to fix us. Y’all sour bitter grapes and old shoes. Nothing is kept quiet here because we have more international journalists by square foot then any other nation. And they are running around every corner of the nation and territories. And they work for all media outlets, biased, Zionist, outright hostile and some credible, left and right.

      • Maghlawatan on August 19, 2018, 10:32 am

        Israel is running Jim Crow . How kosher is that?If the only way to save Judaism is apartheid do we actually need Judaism?

    • Talkback on August 17, 2018, 4:51 am

      ROFL. Says the colonial entity.

  5. Maghlawatan on August 16, 2018, 1:49 pm

    Gaza is a holding pen for all the non Jews Israel cannot afford to have on its demographic balance sheet

    Without Gaza, Greater Israel is 60% Jewish
    With Gaza, Greater Israel is 49% Jewish

    Israel has no idea how to navigate the future other than murder. And that isn’t much use either.

    • CigarGod on August 18, 2018, 9:43 am

      Where did you get those numbers, please?

      • Maghlawatan on August 18, 2018, 10:40 am

        60% was in an NYT article about a month ago.
        Israel is 9m
        1.8m Palestinians. 7.2m jews
        2.8 m Palestinians in West Bank
        0.4m East J

        Total 5 plus 6.8 =11.8

        6.8/11.8 = 58%

        Add in Gaza 2m
        Palestinians now 5+2 = 7m
        Jews 6.8m

      • CigarGod on August 18, 2018, 3:55 pm

        Thanks guys.

  6. annie on August 18, 2018, 10:35 am

    cigar god, jews (6.5 million) and palestinians are around 50/50 in the region (of mandate palestine, not including jordan of course) w/the palestinians population being a little higher. however, if one erases the 2 million palestinians living in gaza, that leaves 6.5 million jews vs 4.5 million palestinians.

    • CigarGod on August 18, 2018, 11:15 am

      Thanks, Annie.
      I haven’t done the numbers for a couple years.
      Last time I calculated there were around 7 million P-refugees outside the Iz ‘borders’. I might have included the Gaza camps in this number.

      Forgive me for not being as precise as usual, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the evidence of the systemic brutality in our institutions (including the brutality of silence in our politicians) and even more overwhelmed at our capacity to rationalize the brutality.

      • annie on August 18, 2018, 1:18 pm

        my pleasure cigar god. maghlawatan posted a more precise answer a few moments after i posted.

      • Maghlawatan on August 18, 2018, 4:29 pm

        Even though Israel expelled 80%of Palestinians in 48 its insane decision to occupy the WB and Gaza in 67 and population growth mean that Jews are now a minority in greater Israel.

        What is even more interesting is the split of the Jewish pop
        1 million Russians
        2Million Orthodox
        700k settlers
        3 ‘Million schmucks who pay for everything and everyone

  7. Ossinev on August 19, 2018, 1:25 pm

    “Israel has no idea how to navigate the future other than murder. And that isn’t much use either”

    I think that Zioland has had some sort of “Final Solution” plan for at least 70 years and have been working on it fairly relentlessly since then. The “Koenig Memorandum” sums it all up.
    What has seriously put the brakes on the ethnic cleansing and ethnic reconfiguration has been the advent of smart phones (with or without cherry tomato flavour Zio intel chips ) and the Internet. It is obviously a total pain in the posterior for the Zios having to try and maintain the image of being a “Western standard only democracy in the ME etc yawn” image whilst the world is recording the fact that Zioland is self evidently a brutal Fascist colony. Oh and those pesky native Palestinians they simply won`t die or go away and there are only so many that we can safely murder and maim at one go. Perhaps an updated “Koenig” plan to include mass sterilzation is the only Final Solution way forward. Well if it was thought good enough for those dusky non-Aryan Ethiopian Jews why not for the pesky non Jewish Arabs?

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