Urban and Urbanization

The right to an urban history: The Gaza Master Plan, 1975–1982

Accepting frameworks promulgated by the Israeli occupation, public discourse has often debated Gaza as a “problem” to be solved, treating it more like a political quandary than a concrete city. Recent scholarship on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict explicitly problematized this approach and resisted the subsumption of Gaza city into the larger geopolitical unit of the eponymous Strip. This article contributes to this new body of critical work by addressing the dispossessory dynamics stitched into Gaza’s urban fabric through an episode from its urban and architectural history. It argues that everyday issues cannot be ignored when analyzing Gaza within the colonial paradigm: indeed, under colonial conditions, these everyday issues inevitably become a site of conflict. Based on archival materials and interviews with key actors involved in the Gaza Master Plan, the article discusses Gaza as a material city with urban institutions and a cast of professional actors. The planning process reveals fundamental tensions regarding the urban status of Palestinian refugees, who became captives in the clash between Palestinian nationalism and Israeli occupation as it played out in the politics of Israeli urban and regional development.

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Volume 39 Issue 2

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