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Sorry COGAT, infographics can’t whitewash Israel’s occupation

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A key element of Israel’s military regime in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), an occupation that will complete fifty years in June, is the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which is overseen by the Ministry of Defence.

COGAT, whose operating budget in 2015 was nearly half a billion shekels, describes itself as “responsible for implementing the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip.”

According to COGAT, its “mission” includes “to facilitate humanitarian issues and economic and infrastructure projects in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and in the Gaza Strip” and coordinate “with the Palestinian population” of the oPt.

What this means in practice is that COGAT “controls the blockade of the Gaza Strip through the land crossings…prevents Palestinian development in Area C and oversees demolitions against Palestinian homes”, and “accepts or rejects Palestinian permits to enter Israel”, among other roles.

In other words, COGAT is the administrative ‘face’ of Israel’s military regime in the oPt – and as such, it suffers from the same image problem as other Israeli state institutions responsible for the implementation of apartheid policies and various systematic human rights violations.

Hoping to mask such unpleasant realities with social media activity and infographics – a delusion shared by others such as the ‘IDF Spokesperson’ – COGAT has in recent years launched propaganda efforts on both Facebook and Twitter.

COGAT’s social media feeds “are primarily devoted to infographics featuring statistics devoid of context, posts about Palestinian incitement and support for terrorism and selfies of smiling soldiers.” As one article put it, “while the graphics are impressive, they are still nothing short of laughable.”

Thus, in order to demonstrate the real nature of COGAT’s ‘mission’ in the oPt, I have worked with New York-based designer Rachele Richards to produce this update on the unit’s activities in 2016. It is based on a COGAT monthly report infographic, and the data is from UN OCHA (here and here).

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Published first by Middle East Monitor.

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