Point-blank: Gaza’s wealth

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 6 Feb 2024


One reason Israel has for ethnically cleansing Gaza and razing it to the ground to ensure the Palestinians never return to it is not widely known. Let’s not forget that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said more than once that, after the Israeli Occupation Forces are done, Gaza will not be the same as it was before the war. So, Israel is in the process of “ploughing” the land to prepare it for what comes next. But what is on the Israeli drawing board for Gaza?

Several projects are waiting to be implemented. For one, the old Ben Gurion Canal Project has been pulled out of the drawer and readjusted. The project would end the Suez Canal’s distinction as the only maritime corridor between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. As originally planned, the canal, which would link Eilat (Umm Al-Rashrash in Arabic) to the Red Sea, would take a large detour around Gaza. But with the Palestinians out of the way and Gaza annexed to Israel, it can go in a roughly straight line directly to the Port of Gaza, saving billions of dollars in construction costs and shortening the transit time for ships.

The second project is to exploit Gaza’s resources in its territorial waters. Gaza’s offshore field is estimated to contain more than a trillion cubic feet of natural gas. As this is no trifling quantity, since it’s unilateral withdrawal from the Strip in 2007, Israel maintained a tight maritime blockade on Gaza to keep close guard over these resources. Meanwhile, it concluded agreements with international petroleum firms such as British Gas, in violation of international law which prohibits occupying powers from exploiting the natural resources of the people and territory under occupation. Obviously, the Ben Gurion Canal would facilitate exporting the gas to Europe and to Asia, making Israel a key player on the international energy map.  

While the world is focused on the horrors Israel is committing in its campaign of genocide, we are overlooking part of the diabolical logic behind it. Israel has set its sights, not just on seizing the land but also on stealing the vast natural resources that belong to the Palestinian people and that would help them rebuild what Israel destroyed.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 8 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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