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The Mathematics of the Gaza Genocide

The Collapse of Gaza’s Health Sector

By Antoine Raffoul

“For 75 years, we’ve been shedding tears, but no one hears. Then, suddenly, we heard of a flood.” Anonymous.

October 7, 2023 marked the people’s awakening from a long nightmare inside the largest prison camp on earth, measuring 365 square kilometers, the home of 2.3 million Palestinians, most of whom are second-generation refugees of the Nakba that displaced their families 75 years ago. This camp, a.k.a. the Gaza Strip, is located just south of the Palestinians’ homeland usurped by Israel.

The militarized prison guards went berserk. They sought and pursued an unimaginable revenge campaign of indiscriminate bombardment and a bloody rampage of killing and destruction the likes of which have not been seen since WW2 in terms of the pace of killings and the unprecedented visibility – for those willing to look at the emerging evidence. At the time of writing, the number of Palestinian civilians killed since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood has crossed the 23,000 mark, the majority of whom are women and children, including babies. The injured have totaled 60,000, many of whom are maimed for life. Those under the rubble will only be recovered once the bombardment is halted through a ceasefire agreement.

Palestinians at the rubble of a building destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, November 11, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90).

Through leaflets dropped from the air, the occupation forces instructed the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lived in the urban environment of the northern Gaza Strip to move to the “safe environment” of the southern Strip while the occupation forces executed their invasion. When Gazans did so, they faced bombardment and airstrikes near Rafah which caused huge destruction and resulted in more casualties.

As winter came, the heavens opened up, and torrential rains have caused massive flooding in the area, making any recovery of casualties nearly hopeless. World health agencies have warned of malaria and infectious diseases spreading as hospitals have been put out of operation by relentless bombardment.

The Displacement of a People. Online Source.

The physical destruction of the urban environment has included refugee camps, residential buildings, educational facilities, hospitals, religious and cultural institutions, and historic sites and artifacts. It is estimated that the Israeli shelling has destroyed 45 percent of the northern Gaza Strip, 70 percent of Gaza City and its environs, 10 percent of Deir al-Balah, and 6 percent of Khan Younis in the south. This devastation carries all the marks of a genocide.

Another unnoticed but lasting effect of this destruction is the environmental damage that the war has inflicted upon Gaza. According to new research revealed by the Guardian, the planet-warming emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza were greater than the annual carbon footprint of more than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations.i It further stated that over 99 percent of the 281,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2 equivalent) generated during the same period were attributed to Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion. Half of this emission is due to American cargo planes delivering military supplies to Israel.ii
As of early November, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor warned that Israel had dropped an estimated 35,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, equivalent to two Hiroshima bombs.iii This alone was equivalent to burning at least 150,000 tons of coal – thus rendering Gaza an ecological catastrophe, socially, environmentally, and psychologically.

Initiative One:
The Competition for the Reconstruction of Destroyed Palestinian Villages 1948–1949. Now in its seventh successful year, this initiative was coordinated with its founder, Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta (Palestine Land Society), and launched in 2016 from London.

Other negative effects include the huge number of cases of infections and disease that result from the prevailing lack of medical treatment that comes as a result of the blockade and because most hospitals have been rendered nonoperational due to the Israeli bombardment. When the dust settles, other health issues will have to be addressed as a matter of urgency. These include mental health, trauma, and immobility suffered by survivors, their families, and next-of-kin who have lost families under the rubble.

These medical and health issues are beyond the scope of this article that deals with the so-called reconstruction initiatives for Gaza – and will best be covered in future issues of this reputed journal.

As an architectural professional, I have had the privilege of being associated with two great ongoing “reconstruction” initiatives for Palestine generally and for Gaza in particular, namely, The Competition for the Reconstruction of Destroyed Palestinian Villages 1948–1949 and The Architects For Gaza – AFG.

Satellite images of the northern city of Beit Hanoun in Gaza before (October 10) and after (October 21) damage caused by the war.
Photo by Maxar Technologies/Reuters.

Coincidentally relevant to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, the competition provides a challenging opportunity for young Palestinian architectural students in universities in Palestine (including Gaza) to design and reconfigure a new “reconstructed” vision for their ancestral homes and villages destroyed during the Nakba of 1948–1949. This poses a challenge to memory and recollection, and the results were unique. They reflected the embodiment of the participants’ attachment to their land and were a testament to the power of their imagination.

Initiative Two:
The Architects For Gaza – AFG initiative, launched recently in London as a consequence of the Gaza war, is the brainchild of two Competition jury members, architects Dr. Nasser Golzari and Dr. Yara Sharif, who are part of the Design Module at the University of Westminster, London.

Gaza universities subscribed to the competition and selected students to submit designs for ancestral villages located even beyond the Strip. A number of the Gaza entrants won prizes. Sadly, it has been reported recently that Maha Jamal Hamdan Mansour, who won the first prize in the fourth year of our competition and was a student at the Islamic University of Gaza,iv was killed during the recent Israeli bombardment. This article is dedicated to her.

The AFG initiative was born in response to the spacio-cidal violence that has been enacted upon Gaza and its people since October 2023. It is a “rebuilding” initiative that, first and foremost, calls for an immediate ceasefire to allow rebuilding in Gaza. AFG issued a statement in more than a dozen languages, including English, calling for UK and international professionals to join in the effort for the reconstruction of Gaza. One of the imaginative ideas put forward in AFG’s statement is to involve the displaced families in the rebuilding process. Another is the recycling of materials that remain from the destruction in an effort to minimize cost and environmental pollution. The symbolism of owners recycling the rubble that is left of their homes in order to rebuild them cannot be overestimated. The management of such an initiative cannot be underestimated either.

The Steadfastness of Palestinians. Source: The Next Century Foundation.

Toward that end, AFG aims to join forces with building and construction industry bodies, a move already bearing fruit with a few responses received from the likes of Self-Help Homes, rebuilding collaborative clusters, physical and virtual educational clusters, off-the-grid pilot projects, and groups working on the design and construction of mobile clinics for Gaza. Design and art support from Palestine Land Society and Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) is welcome and appreciated.

The AFG initiative has attracted hundreds of professional signatories from around the globe. This is the Reconstruction Flood awaiting Gaza.

The link in author’s biography is https://www.1948.org.uk/

i Nina Lakhani, Emissions from Israel’s War in Gaza Have ‘Immense’ Effect on Climate Catastrophe,” Guardian, January 9, 2024.

ii Ibid.

iii  “Israel Hits the Gaza Strip with the Equivalent of Two Nuclear Bombs,” Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, November 2, 2023.

iv  “Competition History and Operation – Year 4,” Palestine Land Society, September 5, 2020.

  • Antoine Raffoul is a retired Palestinian-British architect based in London and Rome. Born in Nazareth in 1941, he was expelled with his family in 1948. He is the founder and coordinator of Group 1948: Lest.We.Forget, accessible at www.1948.org.uk.

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