Opinion: Gaza 2035, A Dystopian City Born from Death & Displacement

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Earlier today, Israel intensified its military operations on the city of Rafah, a designated safe zone sheltering those who were told to evacuate from northern Gaza. The attack resulted in the deaths of displaced innocent civilians who were seeking refuge in makeshift tents. In what can only be described as a tone-deaf move that lacks empathy and ethical moral standing, plans have come to light of what Israel and the United States envision for the future of Gaza.

A Not-So-Clean Slate

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The two nations are working on a route that would allow heavy trucks to travel to the United Arab Emirates through Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In parallel, the normalisation of relations between these countries will be crowned by a railway project (under study since 2017) linking the Israeli port of Haifa to the Gulf States. This historic route will complement and support the one under study by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which envisions a line of over 2,000 km connecting Kuwait to the Sultanate of Oman through Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. An extension of the railway line will eventually allow a connection between Alexandria and the avant-garde city of NEOM, envisioned by the Saudi Crown Prince and located 200 km from the Palestinian city of Rafah. The combination of these projects will also achieve a major strategic objective of bringing the Mediterranean closer to the Persian Gulf.

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It is in this context of great excitement that Israeli authorities at the highest level, assisted by Artificial Intelligence, have conceived a digital rendering of “Gaza 2035” which is intended to become a free trade zone as large as 3.5 times the size of Paris intra-muros, or about 37,000 hectares. It will extend from the city of Sderot, located north of Gaza, to the Egyptian port of Al Arish, in the Sinai Peninsula south of Gaza. Netanyahu and his teams thus envision converting the current Gaza—or what remains of it—into a globalised, industrial territory with a largely commercial focus. The long-term ambition, leveraging its Mediterranean location, is for Gaza to surpass Dubai in prosperity. The promoters of Gaza 2035 also hope to attract tech companies and aim for the zone to become a global epicenter for electric vehicle manufacturing. Massive infrastructure such as ports, railways, and airports are planned, to be powered by a combination of solar panels and fossil fuels.

The Slogan of Choice: Replacing Gaza’s “Crisis with Prosperity”

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According to the Prime Minister himself, the prerequisite for Gaza 2035 will be to “rebuild from scratch” so that economic development can neutralise the political roots of multiple regional crises and wars. This vision of Gaza 2035 and the heavy infrastructure investments seem very serious and have garnered the support of many nations worldwide who see a common interest in it. The White House envisions a commercial corridor and hydrogen pipelines spanning regions from India to Greece’s port of Piraeus. For the West, this is about gaining a considerable advantage over China by establishing multiple bridges between India and Europe, intensifying relations with the Global South, strengthening Europe—particularly its energy supply in relation to Russia—, allowing Gulf nations to diversify their economies, and permanently normalising, even trivialising, the situation between Israel and Arab states. Finally, India will be able to free itself from a certain influence exerted by China, and, according to its Prime Minister Modi, referring to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, “no event or conflict will hinder the realization of this ‘intergenerational project’.” France has reportedly already appointed its high commissioner for the “India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.”

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As with most international relations and diplomatic ties in the region, what these renderings and plans fail to take into account are the plight and desires of the Palestinian people. The use of rhetoric stating “rebuild from scratch” only further illustrated Israel’s plans to forcibly displace Palestinians from their homeland. An effort to encourage business and strive for economic growth should not come at the cost of breaking International law and jeopardising humanitarian rights. “Gaza 2035” is the embodiment of how profits and greed trump human lives and basic moral ethics. So, can business solve all issues? It appears as if business and profits may be the cause of more issues than it tries to overcome.

A version of this article was first seen on michelsanti.fr

For more on the author, Michel Santi and his exclusive opinion pieces visit his website here: michelsanti.fr

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