Targeting infrastructure and livelihoods in the West Bank and Gaza
© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved. State and non-state actors across many protracted conflicts and prolonged occupations in the Middle East and North Africa have systematically targeted civilian infrastructures. We use the cases of the West Bank and Gaza, characterized by more than five decades of occupation and periods of intermittent violent conflict, to analyse how the targeting of water, energy, and agricultural infrastructures has created humanitarian crises and undermined civilian livelihoods. Our analysis draws upon an original database tracking the targeting of environmental and civilian infrastructures and on interviews with humanitarian organizations, government officials and civil society actors. The analysis shows how the targeting of infrastructure has differed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, damage to essential infrastructure and restrictions on infrastructure development are forms of slow violence that accumulate over time, carried out by both state authorities and settlers. In the Gaza Strip, recurrent violent conflict between Israel and Hamas has produced extensive destruction across all types of infrastructure, while the internationally-sanctioned blockade has hindered effective reconstruction. In both cases agriculture is the most frequently targeted sector, undermining livelihoods and connections to land, while damage to water and energy systems has limited economic activity and rendered civilian life increasingly precarious.
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