From Introduction to The Politics of Verticality
Weizman introduces the experience of territory in the West Bank, which explodes simple political boundaries and “crashes three-dimensional space into six dimensions– three Jewish and three Arab”.
Since the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza strip, a colossal project of strategic, territorial and architectural planning has lain at the heart of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
The landscape and the built environment became the arena of conflict. Jewish settlements – state-sponsored islands of ‘territorial and personal democracy’, manifestations of the Zionist pioneering ethos – were placed on hilltops overlooking the dense and rapidly changing fabric of the Palestinian cities and villages. ‘First’ and ‘Third’ Worlds spread out in a fragmented patchwork: a territorial ecosystem of externally alienated, internally homogenised enclaves located next to, within, above or below each other.
A new understanding of territory had to be developed to govern the West Bank. The Occupied Territories were no longer seen as a two-dimensional surface, but as a large threedimensional volume, layered with strategic, religious and political strata.
New and intricate frontiers were invented, like the temporary borders later drawn up in the Oslo Interim Accord, under which the Palestinian Authority was given control over isolated territorial ‘islands’, but Israel retained control over the airspace above them and the sub-terrain beneath.
This process might be described as the ‘politics of verticality’. It began as a set of ideas, policies, projects and regulations proposed by Israeli state-technocrats, generals, archaeologists, planners and road engineers since the occupation of the West Bank, severing the territory into different, discontinuous layers.[ ... ]
Occupation of the skies gives Israel a presence across the whole spectrum of the electromagnetic field, and enables total observation. The airspace became primarily a place to ‘see’ from, offering the Israeli Air Force an observational vantage point for policing airwaves alive with electromagnetic signals – from the visible to the radio and radar frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The West Bank must currently be the most intensively observed and photographed terrain in the world. In a ‘vacuum-cleaner’ approach to intelligence gathering, sensors aboard unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), aerial reconnaissance jets, early warning Hawkeye planes, and even an Earth-Observation Image Satellite, snatch most signals out of the air. Every floor in every house, every car, every telephone call or radio transmission, even the smallest event that occurs on the terrain, can thus be monitored, policed or destroyed from the air.
[ ... ]
The aerial policing and execution of Palestinians within their cities was made possible by the integration of these technological advances. And the act of their liquidation is now subject only to will.
If the horrific potential of iron bombing already exhausted the imagination, in this next step of warfare, armies could target individuals within a battlefield or civilians in an urban warfare. Summary executions can be carried out after short meetings between army generals and politicians working their way down ‘wanted’ men lists. This kind of aerial warfare is so personal as to set a new horizon for the horror of war.