A number of stakeholders have their eyes set on natural gas fields off the coast of the Gaza Strip. [Picture: Offshore Technology]
The fallout of Western sanctions on Russia after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine may have something to do with Apartheid Israel’s gruesome genocide in Palestine. That is according to activists trying to draw attention to offshore natural gas reserves near the Gaza Strip, where the terrorist state has waged a relentless campaign since October.
Gaza Marine is a natural gas field located approximately 36 km from the shores of the Gaza concentration camp. Discovered by BG Group in 2000, the field, estimated at one trillion cubic feet, was touted as a possible source of income for the Palestinian economy.
Nearly 24 years later, it remains untapped – and is the centre of speculation as to why Israel is hellbent on decimating Gaza.
“It’s a huge amount of money and a huge field for a regime, the West, that is running out of gas since it sanctioned Russia,” said Rachel Donald, a journalist and activist at ‘Planet: Critical’. She was speaking in an interview with Moya Lothian-McLean, a talk show host at Novara Media.
Depleting natural gas in the West
Before Vladimir Putin decided to send his troops to Ukraine in February 2022, Western countries had built a reliance on natural gas from Russia. In fact, the European Commission indicates that 45% of gas imports to the European Union (EU) were sourced from there in 2021.
But the invasion of Ukraine prompted a slew of sanctions from the EU and its allies in North America. In the aftermath, an energy crisis.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the first things the EU did was slap it with sanctions and stop importing its gas … It meant that they had to find another supply,” said Donald in the same interview.
The reduced supply for natural gas has led activists to believe the West might have turned their attention to the untapped resource off the Gaza coast. They believe it has driven Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip that has so far killed at least 20 000 Palestinians since 7 October.
Although no concrete evidence of such a plan exists, she points to the “illegal” American-led invasion of Iraq, as well as other incidents throughout the course of history.
“Natural resources have been at the cornerstone of every major conflict of human societies whilst they’ve been trying to grow. We can look through the entire vein of history to see that,” she said.
Ahead of the northern hemisphere winter of 2022, EU, Israel and Egypt signed a deal to boost gas exports to Europe. At the time of the deal, Reuters reported industry experts as saying that Israel was “on track in the next few years to double gas output to about 40 bcm a year as it expands projects and brings new fields online”.
Ownership of the gas
The discovery of Gaza Marine was made by BG Group after the Palestinian National Authority granted the now-defunct British multinational an exploration licence in 1999. The amount of natural gas is believed to be more than what is needed to power up the fragmented Palestinian territories. There is also export potential.
Donald said Palestine came close to exploiting the resource when the exploration licence was granted to the BG Group. But successive Israeli governments kept putting spanners in the works.
“A lot of it is in international waters. It’s disputed; should be shared amongst all of the countries and states close by, including Palestine. They did almost exploit it – in 1999 the Palestinian National Authority signed a deal with BG Group.
“Essentially, with every Israeli government, that deal has changed. Every time a rightwing Israeli government gets in, they take the deal off the table and then every time a centrist or leftwing government gets in, they put it back on the table.”
The reasons why Apartheid Israel would obstruct the natural gas field’s development are several-fold. One of the common reasons peddled by right-wing administrations in Tel Aviv was the fear of funding “terrorism” under Hamas-controlled Gaza. Others have blamed the delay on private investors’ reluctance to invest under the tense political climate in the region.
Most recently, the Israeli government granted preliminary approval for the development of Gaza Marine. However, Donald was convinced that “under no circumstances would a Netanyahu government allow for Palestine to exploit these resources, otherwise they would have done it at some point over the past 20 years”.
The natural gas field could present a lifeboat for the crippled Palestinian economy, one that has been stifled under Israeli occupation. It could also prove lucrative for gas exporters as an alternative supply for Western countries. It might have something to do with Israel’s harsh military campaign in the Gaza Strip.