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Settler Colonial Planning and Gaza: As Captured in Visualizing Palestine’s Stories

For 75 years, Palestinians have been subject to Israel’s settler colonial practices of dispossession and displacement. Today, internationally recognized human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and B’Tselem, acknowledge that Israel’s current system of domination and oppression over Palestinians constitutes apartheid. Nowhere is this more evident than Gaza, which is among the most densely populated areas in the world with 2.3 million people confined to 365km². Since 2007, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to an air, land and sea blockade, making it the world’s largest “open air prison.” In response to the October 7th, 2023 attacks by Hamas on Israel, on October 9th, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced “a complete siege on Gaza…[with] no electricity, no food, no water, no gas”— a siege that has been coupled with continuous bombardment.

Decades of military occupation (in both their spectacular and everyday forms) are at the root of the violence in Gaza and Israel over the past week, with settler colonial planning playing a key role. A hallmark of settler colonial planning is creating conditions that degrade people's access to their means of life, suffocating communities of their access to vital resources like land, water and transportation. To date, Israel retains control over Gaza’s water, electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities, and places severe restrictions on the entry and exit of people and goods. To enforce such control, Israel has constructed a high-tech, barbed wire fence along the border with Gaza, with remote machine guns in certain sections. Israeli authorities tightly control Gaza’s fisheries, a sector they have violently and illegally attacked in recent years. Swathes of Gaza’s infrastructure—from hospitals to schools to roads—have been decimated by multiple assaults and bombardments since 2007. These policies are all emblematic of a settler colonial planning system. Even before the institution of a ‘total’ blockade on October 9th, Gazans faced severe shortages of food and medicine and a collapsing economy as a consequence of such policies.

We also recognize the direct complicity of Western powers—including the US and Canada—in supporting the ongoing occupation and violence. From the provision of arms and funding to explicit support for Israeli government policies, they work collectively in furthering the dehumanization of Palestinians and propping up the settler colonial system. Biden’s recent announcement of more military aid, ammunition and unconditional political support for Israel and the EU’s threat to cut all funding to Palestine are only the most recent expressions of this wider complicity.

Here, with the permission of Visualizing Palestine (VP), we share some of VP’s stories that convey the many consequences of this colonial planning regime — a regime that continues to deny Palestinians’ access to essential services and livelihood opportunities, and indeed, their very humanity. These resources not only highlight the violence of occupation but also underscore the decolonial planning work needed to ensure lasting liberation.

Israel’s Closure of Gaza Started Long Before the Blockade This visual tells the story of Israel’s forced isolation of Palestinian residents of Gaza from Palestinians in other parts of historic Palestine.


The following visual shows how Israel's military blockade on Gaza and recurring bombardments have made conditions in Gaza incompatible with a life of dignity.

Gaza Health Access Under Israeli Siege

Under Israeli blockade, Gaza hospitals experience a chronic shortage in essential medicines and equipment. Patients are forced to apply for a permit to seek care outside Gaza, and there is a high rate of denial of these permits by Israeli authorities. Numerous people have died awaiting treatment. This visual shows the dire health conditions that Palestinians navigate on a daily basis under blockade.

Four Wars Old At least 447 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel’s assault on Gaza so far. This visual tells the story of Palestinian children in Gaza, who have experienced multiple assaults and multiple types of trauma since 2007, leading to a widespread mental health crisis among youth.

Short Walk Home, Long Walk To Freedom

From 2018-2019, Palestinians in Gaza engaged in mass civil resistance, calling for an end to Israel’s blockade and the realization of their right to return. Israel's response was to open fire on protesters, massacring hundreds and wounding thousands. This visual tells the story of Israel's repression of Palestinian civil resistance in Gaza:




We feature stories on inclusive urban planning practices, grassroots organizing, and civic action. Our contributors and readers are activists, reporters, practitioners, academics, and community members.


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