Creating people's geographies
An acknowledged but under-emphasized goal of israel’s 2006 heinous assault on Lebanon as well as its 2008-9 Gaza atrocity was de-development — we recall the infamous, despicable “set back 20 years” declaration just over two years ago. Successful industries were especially targeted both in Lebanon and Gaza by the israeli hafrada regime; in Lebanon, large, modern, state of the art factories such as Liban Lait and others with which israel was in direct economic competition and that it had lost lucrative regional contracts to were the first to be spitefully targeted in July 2006. These also included a medical supplies factory in Lebanon to which UNIFIL awarded its contract and which an Israeli contractor had been in competition for the tender. (For more on this, keep an eye out for an excellent documentary that world-premiered at the Sydney Arab Film Festival last year, entitled Lebanon Burning).
In Gaza, as Amira Hass points out, the israeli military similarly targeted industrial infrastructure and in particular concrete factories in a deliberate attempt to hinder Gaza’s reconstruction efforts:
According to Ali al-Hayek, head of the Palestinian Union of Businessmen and the owner of factories that manufacture cinderblocks, … “Only an engineer knows how and where to attack a building made of concrete so that it will collapse completely, and not fall on the destroyers. … This is an army that spent about three hours in every factory and demolished it or blew it up without coming under attack. It’s not a five-minute wrecking job.”
Hayek and his counterpart in the Palestinian Federation of Industries, A’mer Hamad, are convinced that the destruction was directed against Gaza’s economy and also against the prospects of reconstruction. “The army knew the location of every plant, every workshop, every cowshed, and with all its soul set out to destroy them,” Hayek said.
Hayek and A’mer Hamad are among 17 Gaza businessmen who will attend Monday’s conference of donor countries for the reconstruction of Gaza, as part of the delegation put together by the Palestinian Authority, in Ramallah. With the conference in mind, they are busy making final calculations of the extent of the destruction. They will report that the IDF destroyed 600-700 factories, small industries, workshops and business enterprises throughout the Gaza Strip. Some were destroyed completely, others seriously damaged.
Of the 255 Gaza plants connected to the construction industry (concrete, tiles and sidewalk stones, asphalt, marble, cinderblocks), 63 were hit directly – 29 were reduced to rubble and 34 partially damaged. “Partial” damage ranges from $6,000 to $1.5 million. Total damage ranges from $300,000 to $12 million (the latter sum was sustained by Abu Jiba’s cement factory). The total damage done to the 63 enterprises is estimated at $36 million. Hayek and Hamad will tell the conference that even if all political obstacles are removed, the fact that the leading plants of the construction industry were destroyed will in itself delay the rebuilding process.
Excerpted: Read article in full.