In 1948, the tiny Gaza Strip was cut off from the rest of historic Palestine, absorbing a huge number of Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral lands.
In 1967, it was militarily occupied by Israeli forces, its inhabitants suffering from a plethora of colonial domination techniques and movement restrictions over the subsequent decades.
An unprecedented land, air, and sea blockade was imposed on Gaza since June 2007, constituting the longest siege in modern history.
As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 has noted in her latest report: “Israel’s apparent strategy is the indefinite warehousing of an unwanted population of two million Palestinians, whom it has confined to a narrow strip of land through its comprehensive 15-year-old air, land and sea blockade.”
The outcome has been a harrowing process of de-development resulting, as the UN Special Rapporteur notes, “in a 45 percent unemployment rate, a 60 percent poverty rate and with 80 percent of the population dependent on some form of international assistance, in significant part because of the hermetic sealing of Gaza’s access to the outside world”.
Besides this siege imposed by the Israeli state with Egyptian state collusion, the Palestinian people living in Gaza have been assaulted and bombarded by Israeli forces from land, sea, and air on a regular basis. Their cities, villages, and refugee camps have suffered from several Israeli military invasions, which have led to the killing of thousands and the maiming of tens of thousands of Palestinians. Centering the voices of Palestinian scholars and intellectuals from Gaza, this panel examines the political and historic context of this process, accounting for its enormous human toll but also highlighting the ongoing will to resist this oppressive colonial present.
Hosted by Darwish Visiting Professor in Palestinian Studies, Abdel Razzaq Takriti
Jehad Abusalim, PhD candidate, History and Hebrew and Judaic Studies Joint Program, New York University
Aya Al-Ghazzawi , Writer, English language teacher, Palestinian Ministry of Education
Swee Chai Ang , Orthopedic surgeon, Author
Hadeel Assali, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Lecturer, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University
Fady Joudah, Physician, Poet, Translator
With generous support from Brown University’s Mahmoud Darwish Chair in Palestinian Studies.
Cosponsors: The Arab-American Educational Foundation Center for Arab Studies at the University of Houston and The Jerusalem Fund.