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Gaza/Israel Maps That Make You Think 📰
Tunnel networks, power grids, and a striking similarity to New Jersey (📰 Map News Series)
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In This Issue:
Quick Catch-Up & Intro
Israel/Gaza Maps That Make You Think!
Major Event Timelines In Maps & Graphics
Quick Catch-Up & Intro
Hi Map Nerds!
There hasn’t been a new edition of the Map Nerd Newsletter in a bit, and that’s mostly because:
There hasn’t been much good stuff to post lately (and if you saw some, you should send it to me next time so that I can share it with everyone!), and
I have to admit I suffered a bit of burnout this fall. I was told Creator Burnout was real and dangerous to people like me. “Take it easy,” they said, “watch for burnout.” But I was oh so naive: “Oh Please. I can post about maps forever and forever. Bye Felicia. (but also, is that how you use that phrase?)” I was dead wrong.
Now, given the tragic and contentious events unfolding in Israel and Gaza, I’ve found an important reason to share new maps.
The Israel/Hamas conflict is particularly enmeshed in maps, more so than most others. It is, at its heart, a conflict over territory. It is continuously shaped, driven, and impacted by geography: from the borders of Gaza to the Hamas tunnel network to Israel’s physical position in the region.
I’ve seen hundreds of maps in relation to the conflict so far, published by all sorts of sources. I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share too.
Here I hope to share the maps that maybe you haven’t seen. Maps that provide new dimensions and unique perspectives that I found very interesting, and I think you will too. I dug through two weeks worth of maps and graphics produced by a wide range of sources, from BBC articles to War Mapper’s X/Twitter posts. All in all, I probably reviewed 500 maps and graphics about the conflict. These are the the ones that I found most intriguing.
They certainly don’t attempt to explain the whole situation. Far from it. This is purely a collection of data points that I think slash hope will add different or interesting perspective and perhaps you haven’t seen yet…
Gaza/Israel Maps That Make You Think
📍Israel & Gaza
📍UN “Access & Movement” Map
📍Electricity in Gaza
📍Water in Gaza
📍LGBTQ In Gaza
📍Hospital Blast Video Analysis
📍 ISRAEL & GAZA: We’ll start with the basics quickly. Here are 4 maps that cover a general understanding of Israel and Gaza, from the immediate region (top left) to a detailed satellite zoom on Gaza (bottom right)… (sources: Axios / CIA Nat’l Technical Information Svc / Visual Capitalist / USA Today)
📍 UN “Access & Movement” Map: Just last month (September 2023), The UN published this detailed map of Gaza with a look at some factors affecting the area, like number of crossings... (A full-size PDF can be found here). (source: UN OCHA)
📍 GAZA/ISRAEL SIZE COMPARISONS: Comparing the area to your local city has become a fad online. I’m not hating it though. If you’re not familiar with DC, LA, NJ, or NYC, first: why? but also, you can find comparisons with other cities in the US here and world cities here. (sources: USA Today / LA Times / ABC News / Newsweek)
📍 HAMAS TUNNELS: Hamas has long dug tunnels underneath Gaza (and into neighboring Egypt and Israel) in order to facilitate smuggling, keep their movements hidden, and shield important operations from attack. It is commonly believed that the hostages currently being held in Gaza are hidden within these tunnels. Hamas has built an extensive and complex underground network that outsiders certainly don’t the half of. But, what we do know, or at least think we know, is summed up by these maps from CNN and The Wall Street Journal, respectively. They are both based on an Israel Defense Forces survey from 2014. Suffice to say, it’s definitely not a complete picture. I think everyone assumes the tunnel network today is significantly more extensive… (sources: The Wall Street Journal / CNN)
📍 ELECTRICITY IN GAZA: One of the most pressing concerns in Gaza right now is its need for fuel to generate power. You’ve probably heard that it was forced to shut down its sole power plant early during the conflict. Most people infer that this power plant is Gaza’s main source of electricity, but it isn’t. The graphic below from Al Jazeera lays out how Gaza received electricity before recent events. Interestingly, it shows that a network of about a dozen power lines from Israeli towns near the border supply the majority of electricity to Gaza. The Gaza Power Plant supplies about a third of total power. That said, as Al Jazeera points out, Gaza’s full electricity demand is significantly more than the power that is being supplied to it… (source: Al Jazeera)
📍 WATER IN GAZA: Another pressing concern is the availability of water, which was never abundant but is now alarmingly scarce. Inspired by the Al Jazeera power map, I had to find out how Gaza gets its water. These two maps by Reuters and CNN break it down. The Reuters map shows that there is a natural aquifer that covers all of Gaza - called the Coastal Aquifer Basin. Unfortunately, It’s not very useful for two reasons: 1) the size of the population requires water to be pumped out much faster than can be replenished naturally, and 2) pollution has rendered some 96% of the water undrinkable. So, Gazans rely on a network of desalination plants, which take water from the ocean, as well as tanker trucks. The CNN map shows the location of major water facilities, all of which require fuel to operate. According to Reuters, there are also many small homegrown desalination operations, powered by solar, that supply unregulated water throughout Gaza… (sources: Reuters / CNN)
📍 GAZA’S NEIGHBORHOODS: We often talk about Gaza as a solid block, but it has regions, cities, and neighborhoods just like any other place. Below is a breakdown from Al Jazeera illustrating the distinct areas within Gaza… (source: Al Jazeera)
📍 LGBTQ IN GAZA: Time Magazine recently reported on an amazing map that helps shed light on a less-discussed dimension of the conflict: LGBTQ Gazans. Queering The Map is an online platform that allows LGBTQ people from around the world make anonymous geo-tagged posts, including in places that are less than accepting, like Gaza. Time Magazine revealed multiple posts from individuals in Gaza describing their struggles amid recent events… (source: Queering The Map)
📍 HOSPITAL BLAST FOOTAGE ANALYSIS: This one is to really geek out… The New York Times took a detailed look at a widely shared online video that purported to show the moment a missile exploded over the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. They analyzed videos taken from different angles and cross-referenced landmarks in the background to triangulate where that missile actually exploded. It turns out that it wasn’t near the hospital and likely had no relation to the hospital blast at all… (source: NY Times)
🧭 MAJOR EVENT TIMELINES IN MAPS & GRAPHICS 🧭
The major news outlets love a good graphic. They know that some of us are visual learners (ahem), and none of us want to read too much. Here’s my picks for the best graphic guides to the Israel/Hamas conflict so far:
The Washington Post: “How the Israel-Gaza conflict is unfolding in maps, graphics, and videos” (continually updated)
The New York Times: “Tracking the Attacks in Israel and Gaza” (continually updated)
USA Today: “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict In Graphics” (updated to Oct 23)
CNN: “Ruin and death dot the map” (interactive map with video following timeline of events up to Oct 11) (Warning: contains disturbing footage)
ABC News Video: “Israel Music Festival Visual Timeline” (Minute-by-minute rundown of Oct 7 music festival attack via maps and video) (Warning: contains disturbing footage)
CNN: “Visualizing the Israel-Hamas war” (updated to Oct 23)
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