CAMERA’s Israel office has prompted correction of a Los Angeles Times
book review which inaccurately referred to the occupation of the Gaza Strip. The Sept. 2 review
had stated: “In many circles, you’re more likely to hear about Israel’s settlements, intransigence and its nearly 50-year-long occupation of
the West Bank and Gaza
than you are about its pluck or ingenuity.” (Emphasis added.)
Earlier this month CAMERA contacted a Times editor, noting that the passage wrongly implies that the Gaza Strip is still under occupation. Israel completely withdrew in 2005, ending Israel’s 38-year-old occupation of the Gaza Strip.
CAMERA reminded The Times of its Feb. 4, 2011 correction on virtually the same topic. That correction, also prompted by CAMERA, stated:
“Decolonizing Architecture”: A review of the exhibition “Decolonizing Architectue” in the Feb. 2 Calendar section implied that Israel continues to occupy the Gaza Strip. In fact, Israeli forces pulled out of the area in 2005.
Regarding this month’s error, the editor promptly responded to CAMERA, noting that the United Nations and groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regard the Gaza Strip as occupied, but agreed to run a clarification noting Israel’s disagreement with the definition.
CAMERA persisted, noting that it’s not just Israel which rejects the definition of Gaza as occupied. Among those who maintain that Gaza is no longer occupied is Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar who said in 2012, “Against whom could we demonstrate in the Gaza Strip? When Gaza was occupied, that model was applicable.”
As for legal scholars, a number of experts of international have long argued that Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip. Northwestern University Law School professor Eugene Kontorovich, for example, makes clear (here and here) he disagrees with the view that Gaza is occupied. In the Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law (winter 2011), Solon Solomon states that although Gaza has a sui generis status which requires attention, “post-disengagement Gaza should not be considered ‘occupied’ by Israel” and “it is neither occupied nor under effective Israeli control.” Professors Yuval Shany, Ruth Lapidoth, Eyal Benvenisti and Avi Bell state that Gaza is not occupied, as do Elizabeth Samson, Benjamin Rubin, and Justus Reid Weiner.
Similarly, international law scholar Michael Karayanni wrote: “The Gaza Strip’s current status is broadly debated, and opinions differ regarding whether it remains an occupied territory or, rather, is subject to international humanitarian law.” Another international law scholar who agreed with Israel that Gaza is not occupied is Marko Milanovic, who wrote: “This is not an occupation – this is a siege.”
In addition, following the 2005 withdrawal, then Secretary of State Rice said in a May 1, 2006 briefing:
Good afternoon. I’m here with my colleague and good friend, Jim Wolfensohn, who has served as the special envoy for the Quartet on matters initially of Gaza disengagement in the Middle East. When Jim had really not even yet stepped down as the president of the World Bank, we asked him to take on a new task rather than going to play the cello immediately, and that new task was to assist the Palestinians and the Israelis in a coordinated withdrawal of Israeli military forces and settlers from Gaza. That has taken place and taken place successfully, despite all of the difficulty that was associated with it. And in fact, the Israelis do not any longer occupy Gaza; it is Palestinian territory. And that is in no small part thanks to the tireless efforts of Jim Wolfensohn, who worked day and night to make certain that that could happen. (Emphasis added).
Following the extensive correspondence, The Times published a correction including CAMERA’s point that it’s not only Israel which rejects the definition of Gaza as occupied. It states: “Israel, which withdrew from the region in 2005, and some other scholars reject this characterization.”
CAMERA commends The Los Angeles Times for the correction. While the correction was published online yesterday and in print today, the original online article is not yet corrected.
Los Angeles Times corrections elicited by CAMERA, please see here.