, Volume 75, Issue 4, pp 347–357 | Cite as

A liminal territory: Gaza, executive discretion, and sanctions turned humanitarian



In September 2007 Israel’s security cabinet approved a ‘hostile entity’ classification for the Gaza Strip and intensified its economic and diplomatic blockade of this Hamas-controlled region. Taking the ‘hostile entity’ classification as a point of entry, this paper examines the construction of Gaza as an insurgent zone, a liminal space within which Israel’s executive discretion has authorizing force. Central to this process, it argues, is a blurring of lines between the civilian and combatant—the elimination of a purely civilian space. This paper begins with an analysis of the discursive strategies employed to collapse the space between the civilian body and battlefield in Gaza. It then turns to an examination of socio-spatial practices mobilized around the ‘hostile entity’ classification, foremost Israel’s sanctions policy, and argues this counter-insurgency strategy entails regulation and management of the Palestinian body combined with the active subjugation of Palestinian life to the power of death. Centrally, this paper attends to the relationship between geopolitics and violence at the scale of the (Palestinian) body.


Critical geopolitics International law Sovereignty Palestine-Israel 



Sincere thanks go to Jennifer Hyndman, Alison Mountz and Don Mitchell for leading engaging graduate seminars at Syracuse University, each of which inspired ideas for this paper in different ways. Additional gratitude goes to Jennifer Hyndman for comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Lastly, thanks to three anonymous reviewers for their feedback. All opinions, conclusions, errors and omissions are those solely of the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public AffairsSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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