Today – 52 years to the day since Israel began occupying the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and against the backdrop of measures undertaken by the Trump administration to promote its “deal of the century”– B’Tselem launched a new interactive project illustrating Israel’s encroachment upon Palestinian space over the decades, shattering the land into small, isolated units, and keeping Palestinians apart from one another and from Israelis.
A collaboration with independent research agency Forensic Architecture, the Conquer and Divide project traces how government resolutions, military orders and state planning have created ever-expanding Israeli settlements and infrastructure, promoting Israeli interests at the expense of Palestinians’ rights. 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.
This visualization of the occupation shows how a combination of measures – annexation; establishment of settlements; declaration of “state land,” firing zones, nature reserves and national parks; construction of the Separation Barrier; division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C with varying forms of control; and severing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank – has broken up Palestinian space into separate units that are easier to control in isolation. 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.
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. Israel has doggedly chipped away at Palestinian space, breaking it up into conveniently exploitable pieces, the easier to control and oppress. But the future of all 14 million people who live here cannot be founded on Israeli dominance – and separation and oppression of Palestinians. 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.”