Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet)

Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland

Gaza : the destruction is beyond belief …



by Keith Hammond


I have just finished writing a chapter for a book on adult education in Palestine and as is often the case, there was quite a lot of discussion about the final content. This is standard when writing about Palestine. As soon as the book is out I will also expect the usual emails. No one ever believes descriptions about the punishment that Israel inflicts on Gaza. There is an even more disturbing problem however and that relates to disbelief about what you actually see with your own eyes. When you see the actual devastation in Gaza you can never really believe it …

This, of course, is how horror works …

I visited Gaza in 2009, six months after Cast Lead and the destruction and loss of life was everywhere. It was like witnessing a nightmare, something totally unreal. It is exactly that same disbelief that I am reading now in a piece by Inger Anderson on the Al Jazeera website.

Anderson writes after a visit to Gaza a few days ago, after which she writes, “throughout my career at the World Bank, and at the UN, I have come across many war zones but none compare to this”. Fair enough she is shocked but then she goes on to imply – by repeated omission – that Israel was not involved. Israel gets mentioned once half way through the piece. As you read this article you have to keep reminding yourself that this a woman who witnessed the scene on behalf of the World Bank.

Just as you would expect, she has great difficulty in believing what she saw. But she has another much more insurmountable problem in noting Israel had anything to do it all. Anderson describes Gaza as a humanitarian problem.


It is important to remind yourself that Anderson is no stranger to the destruction of wars. She represents the World Bank. So this is a woman who has been around the block a few times when it comes to assessing war damage. But it is the way you feel her straining to deny the work of Israel – for whatever reason – that you feel the tension in her language. It is this tight omission that hits you aas you read. It actually feels violent …

In the end it is the evasions of Anderson that deliver the punch. The whole piece is about the international donor community throwing cash at Gaza and then looking the other way. There is not the slightest hint of critique directed at Israel, though of course Protective Edge was not the first offensive. Gaza has been through it many times. But it is the way nothing is said about Israel being a state with a very substantial army, navy and air force that threw everything at the people of places like Shujayea that hurts …

This woman actually talks about the destruction of drinking water facilities at one moment and increasing financial aid to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah the next – all part of supporting the Oslo process we are led to understand. So Gaza gets bombed and Ramallah gets more finance. Nothing is said about the forced separation of Gaza from the West Bank or lifting the closure of Gaza so that materials can be moved as needed for rebuilding.



If something has feathers like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and floats on water then it is surely not a chimpanzee. Not even in disguise. So when does the world get real about Israel and call a duck a duck. Do we all have to wait until Israel does something that is so beyond the pale we can no longer look away? When and what circumstances might give rise to that one wonders.

Sara Roy writes that in three decades of research and writing on Gaza, she still asks herself, “Is there a language to really express the torment of Gaza and the way in which the world’s unflinching indifference and heartlessness contribute to it?

It is a straight-forward question that I have asked myself many times. How long can people like Anderson go on feeding the evasion that has punished the Palestinians for over sixty years? Do the culls have to move into the tens of thousands at one go before we wake up? We are not talking about a natural disaster here or a humanitarian crisis. We are talking about the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilian areas like Shujayea …

I have to say as I conclude this blog that I am not hopeful for Palestine or the international community that stands by watching things get worse and worse. I might have been hopeful ten or fifteen years ago but now. We are all watching Israel create greater destruction as though we are in a trance. We cannot believe it. One thing is for sure: things will not improve from this point and Israel will do itself no favours with the bloodshed. A line has been crossed and it will not get better from this point on.


KPH 6th November 2014.


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This entry was posted on November 12, 2014 by in Gaza series and tagged , , , .
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