12 Infographics to Share as Palestinians in Gaza Join the #GreatReturnMarch
Since 2012, Visualizing Palestine has been using human rights data and visual communication to convey the situation facing Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere. As Palestinians participate in the #GreatReturnMarch, we share the following visuals from our archives as context:
Palestinian Life in Gaza
Return to Where?
Most of Gaza’s population of 1.9 million are refugees. They (or their parents or grandparents) were depopulated from other parts of what is today the State of Israel in 1948 and 1967. Now, they are confined to Gaza, one of the most densely populated pieces of land on earth, which has been described as an open air prison and has been under Israeli siege for over a decade.
As the two visuals above show, most of the Palestinians killed by Israel in the 2014 operation in Gaza and during the 2018 Great Return March protests were refugees. Some lived, and died, within walking distance of their original villages. Israel has never allowed them to return, or to move to other Palestinian areas outside Gaza.
Displacement and confinement, then death. This bleak story demonstrates why so many Palestinians in Gaza are mobilizing via the #GreatReturnMarch to demand basic rights such as freedom of movement.
Separate and Unequal
The various populations subject to Israeli authority are separated into five categories, each with a corresponding ID (issued by Israel). Each ID reinforces a different system of rights and regulations, built on a logic of geographic, ethno-national, and legal separation, which is one of the reasons Israel stand accused of Apartheid. Jewish nationals (a separate category under Israeli law) are the most privileged community in this system.
Palestinians all along this hierarchy, as well as those living in exile in other countries, suffer from various forms of institutionalized discrimination, but Gazans living under siege are among the most restricted and impoverished.
De-Development: Worsening Conditions
Several years ago, the United Nations predicted that Gaza would be “unlivable” by 2020. In 2017, they issued an update that conditions in Gaza were deteriorating even faster than expected. Since the start of Israel’s siege over 10 years ago, Gaza’s main industries have crumbled and unemployment has climbed to 42%. Much of the water supply is undrinkable and electricity is only available for 3–4 hours per day.
Israel’s military operations in Gaza have had a devastating impact on civilian infrastructure. Reconstruction efforts have been largely ineffective.
These conditions are especially hard on children. A child of age 11 in Gaza today has lived through four Israeli military operations in the Gaza strip. Around 51% of children in Gaza suffer from PTSD, according to the Gaza Community Mental Health Program.
Israel’s Use of Force
Between March 30 and April 6, 2018, Israeli snipers positioned outside the fence around Gaza have shot hundreds of Palestinian protesters, killing 29. No Israelis have been reported killed or injured so far in these protests.
Human Rights Watch described the killings as “unlawful” and “calculated”, reporting that there was no evidence of Palestinian protesters using firearms or other weapons that posed an imminent threat to Israeli life.
Israel’s use of force against unarmed Palestinians exercising their right to peaceful protest has shocked some American commentators, but it is only the latest example of the disproportionality that characterizes Israeli actions against Palestinians. Between 2005 and mid-2014, Israel killed 27x more Palestinians than vice versa. This level of disproportionality, sustained over time, exposes as habitual Israel’s use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians.
A Culture of Impunity
After these protests, the families of Palestinian victims will likely work with Israeli and Palestinian legal aid groups to file complaints. They tend to focus on the most egregious incidents that demonstrate unlawful force, such as the killing of Yasser Murtaja, a Palestinian photojournalist who was wearing his press vest when he was shot by Israeli snipers. These cases are handled by the Israeli military court system. In other words, the institution responsible for adjudicating alleged Israeli crimes against Palestinians is the same institution whose orders and rules of engagement led to those incidents.
Of hundreds of cases of possible war crimes filed after the 2014 attack on Gaza, only three led to convictions, and these were for minor offenses. Compare this to Israeli military courts’ record of a 99.74% conviction rate for Palestinians, and a picture emerges of a system established to protect Israeli soldiers while punishing Palestinian civilians living under occupation.
The United States has signed on to increase its military aid to Israel to $3.8 billion per year, though it already gives Israel more than all other countries combined. The US also shields Israel diplomatically: since 1970, the US has used its veto power on the Security Council to protect Israel at least 42 times. Since the start of the protests, the US has twice blocked a proposed UN Security Council statement calling for an independent and transparent investigation into the violence against protesters.
Visualizing Palestine continuously monitors human rights reports emerging from Gaza, and regularly publishes new visuals to illuminate and contextualize human rights issues.
Note: This article was updated on July 2 to include “Short Walk Home, Long Walk to Freedom”, a new visual Visualizing Palestine released during the events of the Great Return March.
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