A new online interactive map has been published to mark 52 years of Israeli military occupation, designed to illustrate “Israel’s encroachment upon Palestinian space over the decades”.
‘Conquer and Divide’ was launched Wednesday by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, in the week that marks the beginning of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
The project, a collaboration with research agency Forensic Architecture, allows the user to understand the myriad of ways in which Israeli colonisation has “shatter[ed] the land into small, isolated units, and keeping Palestinians apart from one another and from Israelis”.
This process has included the use of “government resolutions, military orders and state planning”, which have combined to create “ever-expanding Israeli settlements and infrastructure, promoting Israeli interests at the expense of Palestinians’ rights”, B’Tselem stated Wednesday.
“The map throws into stark relief the current situation of Palestinian communities, which have been intentionally cut off from one another and exist as islands in a vast sea of Israeli control”.
The new resource enables the user to visualise a variety of measures used by Israeli occupation authorities since 1967 to colonise Palestinian land, including annexation, the establishment of settlements, and the declaration of ‘state land’, firing zones, nature reserves and national parks.
Other elements displayed by the interactive tool include the Separation Wall, and the division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C with “varying forms of control”.
All in all, these developments have “broken up Palestinian space into separate units that are easier to control in isolation”, B’Tselem wrote.
“While Israel imposes restrictions on Palestinian movement as a major means of control, Israelis enjoy freedom of movement within the West Bank, within Israel, and between the two areas”.
Marking the launch of the resource, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad said: “Since the occupation began, governments have come and gone, and countless declarations have been made”.
“Yet one thing has remained unchanged: all the people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea have been ruled by a single government – one elected only by Israeli citizens, who enjoy the benefit of political rights which Palestinian subjects do not”.
He added: “We invite you to explore the maps in the project not merely as an academic exercise; it is an invitation to see reality for what it is – and demand an entirely different future”.