The restriction of Palestinian movement in Gaza and elsewhere has long been a central tactic of the Israeli occupation.
During the latest Israeli assault on Gaza considerable media coverage has been given to the Israeli tactic of calling people a few minutes before their homes are bombed. Some observers appear to accept the Israeli contention that this is a humanitarian gesture. Others raise the question of where, in this landscape of violence, in a tiny, densely populated strip of land with no free points of egress, the inhabitants are supposed to go. As Jon Stewart put it, “Evacuate to where? Have you seen Gaza?”
Palestinians living in Gaza’s “open air prison” are not only targeted for attack, but also victimized by enforced immobility. Through years of policies of increasing control, closure, and blockade, Israel has created this vulnerability and is now deploying immobility as a lethal weapon. There is frequent reference in the media to the blockade imposed on Gaza in 2006 after Hamas won parliamentary elections, but the process of isolating Gaza began long before that. Understanding how immobility was imposed and then weaponized requires looking at the history of borders, movements, and constraints on motion that have defined this place since 1948.