Resource theft in Gaza rarely discussed


To the Editor:

The 2023 holiday season film line-up reverberated curiously with the Israeli war on Gaza.

One of the top films on the viewing schedule was Martin Scorsese’s  “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Its subject is resource theft: the theft of oil belonging to members of the Osage Nation, and the violence unleashed against Osage people to get control of the rights to the oil beneath their land.

As in Oklahoma, so, too, in Occupied Palestine.

Resource theft is a significant but rarely if ever discussed driver of the current war on Gaza. Palestine contains major oil and gas reserves, clearly described in “The Economic Costs of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinian People: Unrealized Potential of Palestinian Oil and Gas Reserves,” a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report released in August 2019.

“Many geologists and natural resources economists have separately confirmed that the Occupied Palestinian Territory lies above vast reservoirs of oil and gas wealth . . . in Area C of the occupied West Bank and the Mediterranean coast off the Gaza Strip. . . .  in the Levant Basin . . . amounting to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas at a net value of $453 billion (in 2017 prices) and 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil at a net value of about $71 billion, . . . a total of about $524 billion.

“The exploitation of Palestinian natural resources, including oil and natural gas, by the occupying Power imposes on the Palestinian people enormous costs that continue to escalate as the occupation remains in effect. This is not only contrary to international law, but also in violation of natural justice and moral law. To date, the real and opportunity costs of the occupation exclusively in the area of oil and natural gas have accumulated to tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars.

“Following the occupation by Israel of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, control of land, natural resources and water has been at the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as the acquisition of natural resources, or the separation of Palestinians from theirs, have always played a major role in Israel’s relations with the Palestinian people. . . . The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, and based on the previous discussion, the gas reserves belong to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. . . .[Since December 2008] the Gaza natural gas fields have been, in contravention of international law, de facto integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip.

“Since 1970 Israel has been plundering oil illegally and gas resources in the Palestinian territories under its occupation and intensified such practices after the signing of the Oslo Accords. It has allowed itself to control and use the Palestinian natural resources to the benefit of Israeli citizens and corporations and not the local population.” 

Companies that are invested in fossil fuel extraction and pipelines in the Levant Basin include Chevron, British Gas, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Energy, Tamar Petroleum, Dor Gas, NewMed Energies, Ratio Energies, Everest, and others.


Thus, not only has Israel historically excluded Palestinians from ownership and profits from their assets but also it is now conducting a horrifying genocide to ensure there will be no Palestinians left to ever (re)claim what is rightfully theirs.  

No doubt gas and oil profits are also gleams in the eyes of US politicians who provide the weaponry for the Gaza genocide and, in the West Bank, the pogroms of West Bank Palestinians by the IDF and illegal settlers (about 15% of them from the United States), and the systematic, violent arrogation of their homes, businesses, farms, and other property.


Katherine Scott

Vineyard Haven