The radical closure of Gaza serves here as an extreme example of a process of isolation and immiseration of national enemies that is deeply rooted in Israeli ideology and practices of state formation. I use encystation to reveal the dual meaning of the term—that of radical isolation of diseased elements and that of protecting a fetus within a womb—and to show how the two meanings connect with respective Israeli policies toward Palestinians and Jews. I suggest in closing that the Oslo Accords have put in place mechanisms for the future imposition on West Bank Palestinians of the same containment currently afflicting Gaza.*


I want to express my appreciation to Helga Tawil-Souri and Dina Matar whose forthcoming Gaza as Metaphor (London: Hurst Publishers, 2015) provided the original impetus for writing this paper (a version of which will appear in their book).

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