Israel's Rape of Gaza's Natural Resources: What the Conflict was Really About

Spilling the no-longer Secrets.
Credit goes to the owner. I felt this was so fitting for these articles because of the associations the colour black has; very strong art set.

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Israel’s Rape of Gaza’s Natural Resources: What the Conflict was Really About
By Peter Eyre
Date: 8th September 2009
Source: The Palestine Telegraph [ via ]

Back in 2000 gas was discovered close to the shore off Gaza. The vast majority of this vital resource lies within the Gaza Marine Area. Israel from the onset decided it wanted the entire field for its own purposes, having decided to change over to natural gas as the main fuel for its power stations and industry.

Two plans were originally drawn up:

– Take the gas by subsea pipeline to El Arish (Egypt) and then by subsea pipeline to Ashkelon (making it look like Egyptian Gas)

– Take the gas directly to Ashekelon.

In December 2007, BG Group withdrew from negotiations with the Government of Israel for the sale of gas from the Gaza Marine field to Israel. In January 2008, BG Group closed its office in Israel and continued to evaluate options for commercialising the gas. In my own opinion I found the share ratio between all parties very unbalanced with Palestine only retaining 10%.

By mid 2008 BG had signed up with Egypt to pipe the entire supply to Egypt and then convert it to LNG for onwards shipment to the US or EU. This was a potential disaster for Israel as they needed the gas desperately to fulfil their supply requirements having decided to convert to natural gas.

The other problem was that the Gaza Strip had, during these discussions, come under the control of Hamas and added even more complications to a possible deal. By June 2008 Israel was now on a war footing with Gaza with a clear intention of removing Hamas from the strip in order to try and get something salvaged from the failed deal. It was during this time that the ex British Minister, Tony Blair became involved and tried to get BG and Israel to come back to the table and open up negotiations. BG responded and again returned to Israel for urgent talks and scrapped the deal with Egypt.

The Israeli Government then decided that the attack of Gaza would now have to be put back on hold as any activity could jeopardise talks between BG, Israel and the PA. Unfortunately yet again the talks failed and BG continued looking into other possibilities. By the end of the year Israel had made up its mind to go into Gaza and remove Hamas and in doing so would be in a good position to get their hands on these vast offshore reserves.

The attempted take over of the Gaza Strip failed as a direct result of the fortitude and spirit of Hamas and worldwide condemnation. We now have a situation whereby the people of Gaza/Palestine have this incredible offshore wealth but are unable to bring it ashore.

We read about all the financial aid that was promised by so many governments but where is this aid and do they really need it? The answer is simply no as they have all the wealth in the world in their offshore natural gas reserves.

Gaza does need urgent short term help in medical supplies and basic infrastructure support to get it up and running again. It needs significant help with its health infrastructure to cope with the ongoing sickness as a direct result of the Israelis bombardment and their use of weapons containing uranium components. There will now be a progressive rise in cancers, diabetes and birth complications which will put great pressure on their health system. Gaza also needs good quality water and basic food supplies and most of all it needs assistance to update and maintain its sewerage system which has totally collapsed.

Doesn’t it appear strange that raw sewerage now has to be dumped into the sea as a direct result of Israelis blockade? Would anyone in Israel imagine that to swim off their beautiful beaches is now a severe health risk? Can they even imagine the volume of sewerage from 1.5 million people… I think last year alone it was somewhere in the region of 16 billion litres. This year the system is in total collapse and therefore the sea is the only answer. The tidal currents will take all the pollution North along Israel’s beautiful coastline. As they say what goes around comes around!

Now that we all fully understand what lies behind the Israeli – Gaza conflict we should be asking the question where are the United Nations and what are they doing about this? They were very quick to respond to Israel’s disproportionate attack on Gaza. They were very quick to place a war crimes team into Gaza but what about the long running issue of the exploitation of Gaza/Palestine natural resources and these so called disputed borders that they have known about for many years? Let’s just refresh their memories!

The EU and the UN Security Council have a prominent role to play in law enforcement and regulation in the region. Israel should be condemned internationally for its grave violations of international law regarding the exploitation of the Occupied Territory’s natural resources. The country’s blatant disregard for the pronounced international regulations has done nothing but increase Palestine’s dependency on Israeli oil supplies. Israel is also in violation of the Oslo Accord which it manipulated to its own advantage.

Resolution 1803 (XVII) 18 December 1962 declares the right of peoples/nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth/resources,

UN resolution 3005 (XXVII) 15 December 1972 affirmed the principle of sovereignty of the population of occupied territories over their natural wealth and resources and called upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize or co-operate with, or assist in any manner in, any measures undertaken by the occupying Power to exploit the resources of the occupied territories or to effect any changes in the demographic composition or geographic character or institutional structure of those territories

Affirms the right of the Arab States and peoples whose territories are under foreign occupation to permanent sovereignty over all their natural resources,

Reaffirms that all measures undertaken by Israel to exploit the human and natural resources of the occupied Arab territories are illegal and calls upon Israel to halt such measures forthwith;

Affirms the right of the Arab States and peoples whose territories are under Israeli occupation to the restitution of and full compensation for the exploitation and looting of, and damages to, the natural resources.

Resolution No. 3175 (XXVIII) 17 December 1973

Affirming the Right of the Arabs to Permanent Sovereignty over National Resources in the Occupied Arab Territories

The above map shows UN International Maritime Borders but doesn’t give any reference to Gaza/Palestinian Waters

It is ironic however that the UN does acknowledge that a disputed international border exists (as this map shows) so why doesn’t the UN do something about all the above violations or address this so called disputed international border?

It is obvious that despite the UN condemnation of such issues it has no real strength in its ability to perform its duty. One would hope that the UN does not follow in the footsteps of its predecessor The League of Nations which failed dismally.

In the map below several natural gas fields sit within or stagger the Gaza/Israel disputed border which I have redrawn in white which is the 12 + 12 limits (that should apply to Gaza) and the extended red area which would be their EEZ. The area is prolific in Gas and I also believe that crude oil lies deeper under these fields. The map is not to scale but gives some idea of the proximity of the resources. As you can see considerably more offshore territory is available if it could rightfully claim its own EEZ (which is applicable to any other country).

Now you can see what all the fuss is about. How can we, as an international community or how can the UN just sit on our hands and allow Israel to rape the natural resources of Gaza/Palestine. It is obvious that one of the above fields is Gazan owned and sits totally in the middle of their zone (Gaza Marine 1 & 2). The one to the North (staggering the border) is jointly owned even though Israel claim it as their own (Noa & Noa South) and then we have the production platform called Mari B that may also be jointly owned sitting right on the border. We will discuss these fields in more detail in Part 2 of this series.

It is obvious that if Gaza/Palestine were allowed to claim what is rightfully theirs and if the United Nations stood firm in supporting them we would see a transformation in Gaza and West Bank that is beyond imagination.

Why does this simple problem become a major headache for them all to resolve? Why cant the UN Peacekeepers move into Gaza and take over the border control and once in place lift the entire blockade of Palestine by land, sea and air?

I think I already know the answer which caused the same problem in the Balkans and in Lebanon. All locations had been bombarded with new tech weapons which contained components of depleted or enriched uranium. All locations were used as a test bed for US manufactured weapons. What peacekeeper, in their right mind, would subject themselves to such contamination?

As we have already know the UN peacekeepers in the Balkans fell victim to DU contamination and many of those have since died. In Lebanon we saw a similar situation but this time the IDF did not reveal it had used such weapons even though samples recovered since the 2006 attack have tested positive to DU/EU weapons usage. The Lebanese and the UN suppressed this information in order to put in place the peacekeeping forces. It is obvious that had such troops found out the truth no troops would have gone into such a contaminated environment.

The writing is on the wall that we are unlikely to see UN Peacekeepers in Gaza or West Bank. To add insult to injury the UN through its agencies the UNEP and the UNDP have now commenced the clearing of all bombed structures and will over the next year remove and crush the rubble. This highly toxic residue will then be spread around the Gaza Strip for new roads.

As I have previously pointed out this is against the normal policy of the UNEP and UNDP in dealing with potentially contaminated sites so why has this been allowed to happen. Why are both these authorities allowed to create a vast secondary contamination of aerosols to drift over the entire strip once again and also spread into adjacent countries such as Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon etc? It is extremely hard to ascertain what the final death toll will be from the initial action by Israel (Cast Lead) and how this secondary contamination (by the UNEP/UNDP) will affect the entire region and beyond.

Gaza/Palestine does not need any handouts or run of the mill aid when it has such vast reserves. It can have whatever it wants if it were given the same chance like any other country to reap in its own resources….rather than let Israel rape it of its future. When we look at all the aid that is sent by boat or by convoy it’s easy to understand that in most cases it doesn’t get through….why? Because Israel doesn’t allow it to get through? They control all borders (even the so called Egyptian controlled border) and have been handed control of the offshore waters by President Abbas.

We should stop wasting these vast sums of money in aid, which incidentally frequently gets dumped in vast stockpiles out in the desert, because it has either expired or that the authorities don’t allow it to be kept in good storage and it perishes. Is this the right way to treat compassionate donations from around the world?

So what is the simple solution….”Allow Gaza/Palestine to bring their own natural gas onshore to the Gaza Strip. Allow the wealth of these resources to fund major projects such as a large Domestic Gas Plant, a large Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, build new Industrial Gas Turbine power stations (that run on natural gas), promote new Joint Venture industrial entities that run on natural gas and then create a public transport system that also runs on gas.

As you can see Gaza/Palestine could have a very prosperous future but will we, the world, allow this to happen and what price will the people of Palestine have to pay? One thing for sure the United Nations must accept that it failed Palestine miserably. As for the Oslo accord we can also look at this extremely flawed agreement in the next part and show how Israeli manipulated this agreement and then totally disregarded it.

Israel’s rape of Gaza’s Natural Resources Part 2: What the conflict was really about
Date: 17th September 2009

Noble Energy discovered the Mari B natural gas field in March of 2000 and commenced Israel’s first offshore production on the 24/12/2003. Production facilities are sized to produce up to 600 MMcfpd. Noble Energy estimated the total recoverable reserves to exceed one trillion cubic feet. Noble Energy is the operator of the project with a 47.059% working interest with Israeli partners Avner Oil Exploration Limited Partnership 23% Delek Drilling Limited Partnership 25.5% and Delek Investments and Properties Ltd. 4.441%.

But can we say with great confidence that the Mari B natural gas field and the adjacent Noa fields are totally owned by Israel? Do they finish on the border as shown on this Noble Energy Map? Do the disputed borders comply with normal United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea (UNCLOS) protocol? Do the Israelis ever accept or comply with the International Maritime Law? Surprisingly the answer to all of the above is most definitely no!

We have repeatedly seen the failings of the UN to uphold international law. We saw the Oslo Accord in 1995, which gave the fishermen of Gaza a 20 nautical mile (nm) zone, fall into tatters after careful manipulation by the Israeli Government. This was then followed by the Bertini Agreement in 2002 which gave them a 12nm zone, although little is known about this agreement. Since this time we have seen the IDF reduce this zone down to 6nm in 2006. On top of all this we have other restrictions such as Zone K (a buffer zone) on the Northern border with Israel which is 1.5nm wide and to the South we have Zone M on the Egyptian border and that is 1nm wide. In between we have Zone L that basically is also totally controlled by the Israel Navy in a very aggressive manner.

The Israeli Navy was given the security of the offshore Gaza Marine Area by Mr Abbas and this has now become a full scale blockade area. Almost daily the naval gunboats intimidate the fishermen and keep them close to the shore with total disregard of any agreement reached. One can clearly see that this action has nothing to do with fishing but rather the total militarisation of the Gaza Strip and the security of the natural offshore resources.

My next question would be why would the Israeli Government and Noble Energy select to drill right on the Gaza (Palestinian) border? Why have buffer zones? Do they have some hidden agenda or plans to rape Gaza of its own resources?

We have seen this in other parts of the world whereby the drilling company uses slant or diagonal drilling techniques to enter a cross border oil or gas reserve.

There is also the question of an Oil Rig or Platform Exclusion Zones that offers safe navigation and protection to both rigs and shipping. In the case of the Mari B it is sitting less than 1 nautical mile from Gazan Waters and therefore it would be impossible to implement such an arrangement without both countries agreeing to the terms.

I know for a fact that the recommended safety radius for the Mari B was to have been 6nm so is this part of the reason for creating a buffer zone and how can the Israelis implement such a zone that places it well inside Gazan Waters? The other issue is that in the case where one country restricts the activities of another (such as their legal fishing zone) then that country has to compensate the fishermen for the loss of that part of their fishing zone.

The most important issue from my perspective is the fact that the borders have not been clarified by the UNCLOS and continue to remain as disputed borders. Again I think there is another hidden agenda! I believe that Israel’s Mari B field does in actual fact enter into Gazan Waters and should this be the case the field could be classified as jointly owned. Israel has been receiving natural gas from this field since 2003 and no one flickered an eyelid or challenged them.

In the case of the two adjacent fields of Noa and Noa South (which Israel claims to be their own) both are certainly well inside the Palestinian Border. We could be seeing here a classic case of the exploitation of Palestinians Natural Resources. The UN has already identified this rape but again does nothing.

The geology of the entire area makes exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean an extremely attractive business. The sea bed contains an extremely thick salt encrusted layer (from the days when the Mediterranean was dry) with natural gas sitting below. I would also be bold enough to say that much deeper below this gas sits crude oil. The sub terrain in the region is highly active with tectonic plate movement as well as major rifts. These extend from down in the Democratic Republic of Congo running up through Southern Sudan to the Red Sea and Dead Sea area. It has been know for such areas to keep recharging themselves due to the enormous pressure below the surface of the earth.

We also have to understand that both crude oil and natural gas also sits in pockets in the onshore region of Palestine and Israel. It is interesting to note that one of the well heads that has been producing crude oil for Israel for some years sits off the Northeast tip of the Gaza Strip and was once Palestinian Territory.

Whilst still on the subject of the rift area described above we should now look at the severe restrictions that exist in the West Bank. When one looks at the map on the left we can clearly see that Israel is in control of more than half of the territory that is supposed to belong to Palestine.

Maybe again we can see some hidden agenda raising its ugly head. In history the region around the Dead Sea revealed some interesting aspects when large chunks of tar like substance appeared at many locations. There has always been a strong interest in what lies below this strange moonscape environment and historically it is evident that again we see a clear sign of much oil and gas in the region.

Could we again see a similar situation developing in West Bank region that occurred in the Gaza offshore area? Is the reason behind the militarisation of the entire Eastern Sector of the West Bank all related to the Israelis greed for oil and gas at whatever the cost? Are we again seeing the exploitation of Palestinian natural resources?

It is with great shame that we see the failings of the United Nations in upholding international law. They have repeatedly observed this arrogant nation take whatever it wants, whenever it wants. The UN continues to sit on their hands and do nothing. The world knows that what is going on here can only be described as “Slow Genocide” with the overall intention of removing all those of Arabic origin and to reclaim the land that they say was given to them in the Bible. Imagine how different the situation would be today if when Abraham stood on Mt Sinai to receive this gift that he had chosen to settle his people in the area surrounding the mountain and the Sinai Peninsular. Had he done so Palestine would have been left alone under its rightful ownership?

In Part 3 we will look at the potential rape of Palestine’s natural resources in much greater detail and look at the so called disputed borders and military controlled regions that may reveal other hidden agenda.

Israel’s Rape of Gaza’s Natural Resources: Part 3
Date: 23rd September 2009

When one looks at this offshore chart it is easy to see that really the people of Gaza have no way of achieving a commercially viable fishing industry. It has now collapsed and the entire stock of fish close to the shore has been totally depleted.

This chart is an official UN Chart but what does it mean? Why is it that year after year they keep showing a zone that continues to shrink? The same applies onshore whereby Palestine (that was once a large vibrant community) has now been reduced to small enclaves.

This so called two state policy is an absolute joke with West Bank in itself almost becoming two states (Israeli – Palestinian)

Lets briefly look at the disaster that has fallen upon the fishermen of Gaza and how the Israelis (with the help of the Palestinian Authority) have now asserted total control of the entire offshore waters. Some time ago I had the opportunity to visit Cyprus and met with many fishermen there who boasted about the days when they could fish in the offshore Gaza area. Fishing was excellent and prawning was even better with some very lucrative catches. The Cypriot fisherman remember the days when the Israel Navy slowly but forcible moved them out of the region.

Since the Oslo Accord and the Bertini Agreement we have seen the Israel Government exert its force onto the poor fishermen of Gaza. The original 20 nautical mile limit (which should have been 24 nautical miles) has never been upheld and likewise the Bertini 12 nautical mile limit failed to achieve it goal. What we have now is basically the fishermen go out and operate on a day to day basis in an area close to shore, the extent of which is controlled by the Israeli Navy.

Some time ago during talks on the offshore gas reserves President Abbas handed over the offshore security zone to Israel which it now controls.

Writing this article doesn’t mean that I fully approve of the blockade. I believe that all negotiations made on behalf of Palestine are totally unacceptable to a point that the people of Palestine have been held to ransom. Many times we see a big brother type approach where they are forced to accept or suffer the consequences. However I also feel that President Abbas has in some cases accepted deals that would normally be totally unacceptable to others.

Let’s now take a closer look at the fishing industry and see just how difficult it is for the fishermen of Gaza to maintain a viable industry. As we have previously discussed fishing offshore Gaza used to be extremely lucrative so what has changed to bring this industry into total collapse and why?

This is part of a typical catch in Cyprus. I watched the fishing boats arrive in the evening with around 1500 kg of these Tuna type fish. Overnight they were shipped out and on their way to Europe. This gives a simple comparison of what can only be described as a very lucrative catch. The fish are separated into boxes after they have been weighed.

Most fishing takes place in deeper water and therefore this becomes the first obstacle for the fishermen of Gaza. The Israeli Navy continuously intimidates the fishermen and most of the time restricts them to closer inshore (inside around 3 km offshore).

When one goes out everyday (the same distance) you put enormous pressure on the systems ability to restock in a natural way. The zone becomes overfished and immature fish also get taken and therefore the chain is then broken. Eventually within a small timeframe the entire stock depletes and collapses.

To prove a point take a look at one such catch in Gaza and you can see from the photograph below that despite the manpower the yield is extremely small.

In 2007 the UNHCR reported on the decline of Gaza’s Fishing Industry and stressed the importance of allowing the fisherman to go about their daily lives in this vital industry. Fishing historically has been the only lifeline for the people of Gaza. It has been very much part of their daily life and nutritional intake. The UN has allowed the establishment of the deeply flawed Oslo Accord to decimate it.

Generally speaking each coastal state is entitled to its own EEZ which allows it access and control to all the natural resources that exist within its 200 nautical mile limit. In the case of Gaza it is not possible to gain such an extended marine zone as the borders between Israel and Egypt, when extended, converge into a sort of extended triangle shape. However, it may be possible to give Gaza a distance of around 60 nautical miles. If such a zone was established Gaza would be in a very good position to recover its lost fishing industry and also have the ability to continue searching for more oil and gas which is believed to be prolific in this area.

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