The following quotations are taken from:
Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation, pp. 1-11, 63-70, 80-85. Verso 2007.
“Against the geography of stable, static places, and the balance across linear and fixed sovereign borders, frontiers are deep, shifting, fragmented and elastic territories. Temporary lines of engagement, marked by makeshift boundaries, are not limited to the edges of political space but exist throughout its depth. Distinctions between the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ cannot be clearly marked. In fact, the straighter, more geometrical and more abstract official colonial borders across the ‘New Worlds’ tended to be, the more the territories of effective control were fragmented and dynamic and thus unchartable by any conventional mapping technique. The Occupied Palestinian Territories could be seen as such a frontier zone.” 4
“The spatial organizations of the Occupied Territories is a reflection not only of an ordered process of planning and implementation, but, and increasingly so, of ‘structured chaos’, in which the—often deliberate—selective absence of government intervention promotes an unregulated process of violent dispossession. The actors operating within this frontier—young settlers, the Israeli military, the cellular network provider and other capitalist corporations, human rights and political activists, armed resistance, humanitarian and legal experts, government ministries, foreign governments, ‘supportive’ communities overseas, state planners, the media, the Israeli High Court of Justice—with the differences and contradictions of their aims, all play their part in the diffused and anarchic, albeit collective authorship of its spaces/ Because elastic geographies respond to a multiple and diffused rather than a single source of power, their architecture cannot be understood as the material embodiment of a unified political will or as the product of a single ideology. Rather, the organization of the Occupied Territories should be seen as a kind of ‘political plastic’, or as a map of the relation between all the forces that shaped it.” 5
“… the frontiers of the Occupied Territories are not rigid and fixed at all; rather, they are elastic, and in constant transformation. The linear border, a cartographic imaginary inherited from the military and political spatiality of the nation state has splintered into a multitude of temporary, transportable, deployable and removable border-synonyms—‘separation walls’, ‘barriers’, ‘blockades’, ‘closures’, ‘road blocks’, ‘checkpoints’, ‘sterile areas’, ‘special security zones’, ‘closed military areas’ and ‘killing zones’—that shrink and expand the territory at will. These borders are dynamic, constantly shifting, ebbing and flowing; they creep along, stealthily surrounding Palestinian villages and roads. They may even erupt into Palestinian living rooms, bursting in through the house walls. The anarchic geography of the frontier is an evolving image of transformation, which is remade and rearranged with every political development or decision. Outposts and settlements might be evacuated and removed, yet new ones are founded and expand. The location of military checkpoints is constantly changing, blocking and modulating Palestinian traffic in ever-differing ways. Mobile military bases create the bridgeheads that maintain the logistics of ever-changing operations. The Israeli military makes incursions into Palestinian towns and refugee camps, occupies them and then withdraws. The Separation Wall, merely one of multiple barriers, is constantly rerouted, its path registering like a seismograph the political and legal battles surrounding it. Where territories appear to be hermetically sealed in by Israeli walls and fences, Palestinian tunnels are dug underneath them. Elastic territories could thus not be understood as benign environments: highly elastic political space is often more dangerous and deadly than a static, rigid one.
The dynamic morphology of the frontier resembles an incessant sea dotted with multiplying archipelagos of externally alienated and internally homogeneous ethno-national enclaves—under a blanket of aerial Israeli surveillance. In this unique territorial ecosystem, various other zones—those of political piracy, of ‘humanitarian’ crisis, of barbaric violence, of full citizenship, ‘weak citizenship’, or no citizenship at all—exist adjacent to, within or over each other.
The elastic nature of the frontier does not imply that Israeli trailers, homes, roads or indeed the concrete wall are in themselves soft or yielding but that the continuous spatial reorganization of the political borders they mark out responds to and reflects political and military conflicts. The various inhabitants of this frontier do not operate within the fixed envelopes of space—space is not the background for their actions, an abstract grid on which events take place—but rather the medium that each of their actions seeks to challenge, transform or appropriate. Moreover, in this context the relation of space to action could not be understood as that of a rigid container to ‘soft’ performance. Political action is fully absorbed in the organization, transformation, erasure and subversion of space. Individual actions, geared by the effect of the media, can sometimes be more effective than Israeli government action. Although it often appears as if the frontier’s elastic nature is shaped by one side only—following the course of colonialist expansion—the agency of the colonized makes itself manifest in its success in holding steadfastly to its ground in the face of considerable odds, not only through political violence, but in the occasional piece of skilful diplomacy and the mobilization of international opinion. Indeed, the space of the colonizer may as well shrink as frontiers are decolonized.
In the meantime, the erratic and unpredictable nature of the frontier is exploited by the government. Chaos has its peculiar structural advantages. It supports one of Israel’s foremost strategies of obfuscation: the promotion of complexity—geographical, legal or linguistic. Sometimes, following a terminology pioneered by Henry Kissinger, this strategy is openly referred to as ‘constructive blurring’. This strategy seeks simultaneously to obfuscate and naturalize the facts of domination. Across the frontiers of the West Bank it is undertaken by simultaneously unleashing processes that would create conditions too complex and illogical to make any territorial solution in the form of partition possible (many of the settlements were indeed constructed with the aim of creating an ‘irresolvable geography’), while pretending that it is only the Israeli government that has the know-how to resolve the very complexity it created.” 6-8
“The technologies of control that enable Israel’s continued colonization of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are located at the end of an evolutionary chain of techniques of colonization, occupation and governance developed throughout the history of Zionist settlement. Furthermore, every change in the geography of the occupation has been undertaken with the techniques and technologies of the time and in exchange with other developments worldwide. The main surge of the colonization of the West Bank in the 1980s coincided with the Reagan-era flight of the American middle classes and their fortification behind protective walls—both formations setting themselves against the poverty and violence they have themselves produced. Perfecting the politics of fear, separation, seclusion and visual control, the settlements, checkpoints, walls and other security measures are also the last gesture in the hardening of enclaves, and the physical and virtual extension of borders in the contest of the more recent global ‘war on terror.’ The architecture of Israeli occupation could thus be seen as an accelerator and an acceleration of other global political processes, a worst-case scenario of capitalist globalization and its spatial fall-out. The extended significance of this ‘laboratory’ lies in the fact that the techniques of domination, as well as the techniques of resistance to the, have expanded and multiplied across what critical geographer Derek Gregory called the ‘colonial present’, and beyond—into the metropolitan centers of global cities.
Indeed, beyond their physical reality, the territories of Israel/Palestine have constitutued a schematic description of a conceptual system whose properties have been used to understand other geopolitical problems. The ‘Intifada’ unfolding in Iraq is a part of an imaginary geography that Makram Khoury-Machool called the ‘Palestinization of Iraq’. Yet, if the Iraqi resistance is perceived to have been ‘Palestinized’, the American military has been Israelized’. Futhermore, both the American and Israeli militaries have adopted counter-insurgency tactics that increasingly resemble the guerrilla methods of their enemies. When the wall around the American Green Zone in Baghdad looks as if it had been built from left-over components of the Wet Bank Wall; when ‘temporary closures’ are imposed on entire Iraqi towns and villlages and reinforced with earth dykes and barbed wire; when larger regions are carved up by road blocks and checkpoints; when the homes of suspected terrorists are destroyed, and ‘targeted assassinations’ are introduced into a new global militarized geography—it is because the separate conflicts now generally collected under the heading of the ‘war on terror’ are the backdrop to the formation of complex ‘institutional ecologies’ that allow the exchange of technologies, mechanisms, doctrines, and spatial strategies between various militaries and the organizations that they confront, as well as between the civilian and military domains.” 9-10
“The process of partial decolonization, which was recently embodied in the evacuation of the ground surface of Gaza and the building of the Wall in the West Bank, is indicative of an attempt to replace one system of domination with another. If the former system of domination relied upon Israeli territorial presence within Palestinian areas and the direct governing of the occupied populations, the latter seeks to control the Palestinians from beyond the envelopes of their walled-off spaces, by selectively opening and shutting the different enclosures, and by relying on the strike capacity of the Air Force over Palestinian areas. In this territorial ‘arrangement’ the principle of separation has turned ninety degrees as well, with Israelis and Palestinians separated vertically, occupying different spatial layers. This process of ‘distanciation’, which saw the reduction in Israeli direct territorial presence on Palestinian territories and with it a degree of responsibility for the Palestinian population, resulted in a radical increase in the level of violence, with the period since the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip being the most devastating to Palestinian life and welfare since the beginning of the occupation.
This conflation of separation/partition with security, violence and control is not surprising when we realize that it was largely Israeli military officers, serving or retired, that conducted territorial negotiations during all the Israel/Palestine peace (or partition) processes. Israel’s logic of ‘peacemaking’ throughout the territorial discourse of partition blurred the distinctions between war and peace. Partition plans were presented as peace plans, while settlement masterplans, prepared by or submitted to Israeli governments, were also partition plans (planners placed settlements in those parts of the territories they wanted the government to annex.” 11
“The establishment of Special Commando Unit 101, for the purpose of frontier raids, under the command of Ariel Sharon, became central to the blurring of state borders and for the distinction it created between the idea of what constituted ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the political state. Throughout its several-month lifespan in the second half of 1953, the unit transgressed, breached and distorted borders of different kinds: geopolitical—its operations crossed the borders of the state; hierarchical—its members did not fully obey orders and operational outlines and often acted on their own initiatives; disciplinary—they wore no uniforms, and expressed an arrogant intolerance, encouraged by and embodied in Sharon himself, of all formalities perceived as urbane and outmoded ‘military procedures and bureaucracy’; and legal—the nature of their operations and their flagrant disregard for civilian life broke both the law of the Israeli state as well as international law. Although Unit 101’s activities mostly constituted the slaughter of unarmed Palestinian civilians in villages and refugee camps, and its most infamous ‘attack’ was the killing of 60 unprotected civilians in the West Bank village of Qibia, it quickly cultivated a mythic status that greatly appealed to the imagination of Israeli youth.” 63
“After the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian groups began to established armed cells around a loose network of local command headquarters. Without the thick jungles of Vietnam, the Fatah, PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and other armed groups that belonged to or splintered from the PLO, based their command within the dense, winding fabric of the refugee camps, which they themselves developed into an extra-territorial network of armed enclaves. From there they engaged in military operations against the occupying forces, as well as in terror attacks against Israeli civilians and against Palestinians suspected of collaboration. The grid of roads along which UN agencies laid out prefabricated sheds to house the 1948 refugees grew into a chaotic agglomeration of structures and ad hoc extensions, forming a shifting maze of alleyways, no more than a metre or so wide. Although they came under Israeli control, the occupation forces could rarely enter the camps, make arrests, collect taxes or impose regulations.
The counter-insurgency campaign in Gaza started in July 1971 and lasted until resistance was suppressed in February the following year. Sharon ordered extended curfews and a shoot-to-kill policy of suspected insurgents, and established assassination squads who worked their way through lists of names. Sharon was trying to break the resistance by killing anyone involved in its organization. Over a thousand Palestinians were killed. The campaign also acquired a different dimension: that of design undertaken by destruction. Writing the latest and most brutal chapter in the urban history of the grid, Sharon ordered military bulldozers to carve wide roads through the fabric of three of Gaza’s largest refugee camps—Jabalya, Rafah and Shati. The new routes divided these camps into smaller neighbourhoods, each of which could be accessed or isolated by infantry units. Sharon also ordered he clearing of all buildings and groves in an area he defined as a ‘security perimeter’ around the camps, effectively isolating the built-up area from its surroundings and making it impossible for anyone to enter or leave the camps without being noticed. Other activities such as the paving of roads and the introduction of street lighting, were meant to enable the occupation forces to drive into the camps rapidly and without fear of land mines. Together, these actions caused the destruction or the damaging of about 6000 homes in a seven-month period. It was not the first—nor the last—time that the single-mindedness of Sharon’s military planning was transferred to the ground without mediation, adaptation or friction, giving the execution of his plans the functional clarity of a diagram.
The urban destruction of the Gaza camps was complemented by proposals for two types of construction; both demonstrated Sharon’s ability to mobilize planning as a tactical tool. The first was for Jewish settlements to be built along what he called ‘the five-finger plan’, which positioned settlements as deep wedges into Gaza in order to separate its towns and break the area into manageable sections. The southernmost ‘finger’ was to be built in the Rafah Salient, eyond the southern edge of the Gaza Strip on occupied Egyptian Sinai, and was meant to sever Gaza from the arms-smuggling routes in the Sinai Desert. The other project that Sharon enthusiastically promoted was considered more ‘experimental’ and involved the construction of new neighbourhoods for the refugees. It was designed to bring about the undoing of the refugee camps altogether, and so remove the reasons for dissent that Israel believed was bred there through the immiseration of their Palestinian populations.” 69-70
“Forty days after assuming ministerial office, Sharon announced the first proposal in a series of plans for the creation of Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank… the plan projected a network of more than a hundred points to be inhabited by suburban, urban and industrial settlements on the mountain ridges across the depth of the West Bank. According to the plan, settlements were to be organized in sustainable ‘blocks’, in which a number of smaller rural and suburban settlements would receive services from larger urban, industrial ones. Each block of settlements was to be connected along major highways to other such conurbations, and to the main metropolitan centres in Israel proper. The high-volume traffic network that would connect the settlement blocks was itself to be protected by other settlements along the routes.
According to the Sharon0-Wachman plan, the settlements would also function as barriers, enveloping the Palestinian-populated mountain region from both east and west, and fragmenting it internally with Israeli east-west traffic corridors and by settlements located on the Palestinian road network. The Sharon-Wachman plan was not therefore a network of fortifications placed in an empty abstract space; rather, it was a network superimposed upon another, the pre-existing, living Palestinian spaces. The aim of the Israeli settlement and roads was to splice and paralyze the Palestinian one. The result would be several isolated Palestinian cantons, each around a major city, with the connections controlled by Israel.” 80-81
“The nodes of the West Bank’s matrix of control act as on/off valves regulating movement, replacing the necessity for the physical presence of Israeli forces within Palestinian cities. This distributed logic would later allow Israelis to pull out of densely inhabited Palestinian areas under the terms of the Oslo Accord while still dominating the Palestinians physically, collectively and politically by remotely controlling their movements.
On the smaller, tactical scale of the Sharon-Wachman plan, individual settlements were located on strategic summits, thereby allowing them to function as observation points: maintaining visual connection with each other and overlooking their surroundings, main traffic arteries, strategic road junctions and Palestinian cities, towns and villages. Sharon claimed that ‘there was no place [settlement] that was built without a reason’. The logic of visibility—to both see and be seen—dictated the overall mode of design. Visual domination was important not only in order to exercise domination, but to demonstrate the presence of the occupation’s power. Sharon, flying over the Occupied Territories once remarked: ‘Arabs should see Jewish lights every night from 500 metres.’ Tactical consideration engaged simultaneously thus with both seeing and being seen. The sense of always being under the gaze was intended to make the colonized internalize the facts of their domination.” 81
“The network of roadways that was purportedly built for the purpose of facilitating military manoeuvres became effective instruments of development—not only for the ideological core of Gush Emunim, but for Israeli suburb-dwellers. The settlements project was explained to an Israeli public traumatized by the 1973 war as a defensive system designed to help protect the state from invasion, a precaution against another surprise conventional war, this time not in the ‘endless’ open deserts of the Sinai but much closer to home—in the West Bank. Sharon, expert in manipulating and profiting from public fear, warned: ‘If we don’t begin settling in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], Jordanian artillery will come to us.’ He later explained in military terms the logic of defence embodied in the project: ‘In any attack our lines had to be held by limited regular forces in conjunction with the civilian communities whose role is to guard our borders, secure roads, insure communications, and so on… [the West Bank settlements] would be organized for defence, with their own weapons and ammunition, their contingency plans and their integration into the overall defensive system.’ Battlefield terms such as strongpoint, advance, penetration, encirclement, envelopment, surveillance, control and supply lines migrated, form the military to the civilian sphere. For Sharon the architect/general, politics was war as much as war was politics and both were exercised in space making. The concept of ‘depth’ was also civilianized. Flexibility became the hallmark of Sharon’s work as an architect across the Israeli frontier. The mobile home and later the small red-roofed single family house replaced the tank as a basic battle unit; homes, like armoured divisions, were deployed in formation across a theater of operations to occupy hills, to encircle an enemy, or to cut its communication lines. Sharon ‘trekked from place to place, climbing with map in hand to decide where settlements would be located, looking for high, important terrain and vital road junctions’. In the hands of Sharon, his followers and colleagues, architecture and planning were presented as a continuation of war by other means. The civilianization of military terms was to lead in turn to the. Militarization of all other spheres of life. War was only over because it was now everywhere.” 84-85