Monday, January 13, 2014

The architecture of Ariel Sharon

Sharon leaves behind a legacy of construction and destruction that has shaped today's Israel and Palestine.

(Eyal Weizman is an architect, professor and director of the Forensic Architecture ( project at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London)
Sharon had grown to view the armed conflict with the Palestinians as an urban problem, and the rapid expansion of Palestinian cities and refugee camps as something that Israeli occupation forces would later call "the jihad of building". In 1970s he was given the task to "pacify" resistance in the refugee camps of Gaza. Sharon ordered military bulldozers to carve a grid of roads wide enough for tanks to be able to drive through the dense fabric of three of Gaza's largest camps - Jabalya, Rafah and Shati - destroying nearly one thousand homes. The new routes created smaller neighbourhoods, each of which could be isolated by infantry units.
Sharon's architecture involved not only destruction but also construction. The other major projects he undertook, besides the destruction of the camps, was an attempt to "pacify" the refugees by constructing and forcefully relocating a few thousand of them into Israeli-style social housing blocks next to major Palestinian cities. A few pilot projects were built north of Gaza, but these housing units themselves became centres of resistance. The project was abandoned and the housing largely since demolished in Israeli incursions.

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