|Ph.D Student||Abreek-Zubiedat Fatina|
|Subject||Architecture in Conflict beyond the Green Line|
Gaza and Yamit Cities 1967-1982
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Alona Nitzan-Shiftan|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
This study examines the parallel planning processes of Gaza City and the new Jewish city Yamit as part of the Israeli Master Plan for the Gaza Strip and Northern Sinai. The study examines, for the first time, the Israeli development project for the region, and sheds light on the interests and ideologies of various historical actors and planning bodies that affected the development of the two cities from the rise of the project after the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip in 1967, and until the destruction of Yamit in 1982 following the peace agreement with Egypt that ended the development project. The research probes, theatrically and empirically, the three interconnected trajectories of the Israeli policy?development, settlement and security and their multiple confrontations with Palestinian nationalism.
The implications of the competition over this geography are greater than the conflict between two national bodies that claim their right to this territory. The study demonstrates how the war that birthed the Strip in 1949 deprived the self-contained group of towns and villages from their perception as historical-cultural entities. Instead, the Strip emerged as a geopolitical-historical entity that was constituted vis-à-vis Israel through an inherently asymmetric relationship. Both the conflict and the prolific research that examines its results have bolstered a new reality that we must face: Gaza has stopped being a city and became an idea. Accordingly, most architectural studies rehears the very same politics that they analyze. They accept the Israeli hegemonic formula of “security, development and settlement” as a given. Instead of reflecting on this formula, they justify their criticism through the Palestinian resistance to the occupation.
The literatures review demonstrates how the perception of the occupation as an existential condition has turned into scholarly modus operandi. From this perspective, Israelis and Palestinians are staged as eternal enemies on the opposite sides of the colonial regime. Studies inspired by postcolonial theory thus further enshrine an essentialist conception that often overlooks the historical specificity of the recent past. The result is perplexing: by giving a theoretical grounding to worldviews that consolidate and flatten the multiplicity of voices and identities, contemporary research serves the struggle, instead of unravelling those silenced voices that may offer alternative venues to understand the struggle.
This research offers a parallel architectural-historical analysis of the two spaces in order to start filling the conspicuous lacuna in the historiography of the Occupied Territories, and more generally, in the architectural history of conflictual sites. As such, the research raises questions about the agency of architecture and its power to act in contested territories. From this new perspective, discussing the architectural dimensions of a development project that was undertaken through the conflict, along the fault line between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian nationalism, discloses not only the political decisions about material and spatial configuration, but also the mechanisms and influence of architecture as a cultural institution.