Sunday, August 3, 2014

Gaza Strip

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    

Gaza  city in the Gaza Strip was first in the hands of Egyptians and then the Philistines ruled way back in the 15th to 13th centuries BCE.  In the 12th century BCE the Philistines captured it and was important as one of their 5 important coastal cities.  The Temple of Dagon was there.  It was to go to the tribe of Judah but remained in Philistine hands.  This is where Samson was put in prison and died.

Like Israel, Gaza was taken in 720 BCE and annexed by Sargon of Assyria and again in 521 by Cambyses of Persia.  Then Alexander the Great recolonized it as a Hellenistic city in 332.  When he died it was fought over by the Egyptian Ptolemies and the Syrian Seleucides until Antiochus III of Syria in 198 annexed it.

Gaza became independent in 110 BCE, captured by Alexander Yannai in 96 BCE and became a free city by Pompey in 61 BCE.

Gaza city and the Strip was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century and the city was just a small village then.  From the 19th century on, Gaza was culturally dominated by Egypt and many Muslims moved in.

Throughout the Middle Ages a Jewish population lived in Gaza.  So did a Samaritan community until Napoleon captured it in 1799.  Muhammad Ali of Egypt conquered it in 1831.  His rule ended in 1840 after the Ottomans defeated his forces outside the city.

The 20th century began in Gaza with 2 destructive earthquakes in 1903 and 1914.   Jews left in 1917.  In that year the Triple Entente forces captured the city after a 3rd battle against the Ottoman forces there.  The city expanded under the Mandatory Palestine when Britain held the mandate.   A few who returned left again in 1929 during Arab riots against Jews which resulted in deaths in Jerusalem.

The 1947 UN Partition Plan assigned Gaza to the Arab Palestinian state which the Arabs refused to accept.  During the 1947-1949 war the  All-Palestine Government was declared in Gaza by the Arab League, and a Palestinian executive body was assembled in the city.  I:n 1949 Gaza city's population was 30,000, swollen by many refugees.

After the war, it functioned as a client government of Egypt until incorporated into the United Arab Republic in 1959, being absorbed into Egypt, though its residents were not granted citizenship.  Israel captured it in November 1956 who remained there until March 1957.  It fell into Israeli hands again in the Six-Day War in 1967 so Israel occupied it.   A census showed the population was then 119,000.  During the First Intifada it became a center of political resistance.

The Gaza Strip starts from the eastern border of Egypt and goes north up along the coast for 22 miles.  The width is about 8 miles.  The Egyptians had advanced into the Negev in May 1948 and Israel's offensives from October to December 1948 drove Arabs out of the area except in the Gaza Strip.  It was under Egyptian rule then and remained so until  Egypt signed the armistice agreement of 1949.  By 1955 it was the focus of military and political tension.  November 1956 it was captured by Israel in the course of the Sinai Operation.  Israel returned it to Egypt in March 1957 under UN and USA pressure.  Egypt had a UN Emergency Force stationed along the border with Israel.  Nasser of Egypt demanded that the UN force withdraw and the UN secretary-general U Thant gave in to this demand.  Nasser was preparing for the Six Day War against Israel.  By now the population was 352,260 in the Gaza Strip.  172,520 were refugees. By  July 1972 the population was 388,600.  Gaza consists of 140 square miles.  Judea and Samaria had almost 640,600 people  in 2,270 square miles.

The Oslo Accords of 1993 said that it was to be placed under the control of the new Palestinian National Authority (PA run by Abbas.)  By 2005 Israel left Gaza and forcibly removed Israelis who had made their home there since 1967.  In effect Israel was granting Gaza full political autonomy.  By 2007 Hamas terrorists won the elections against Fatah. The two terrorist groups fought it out and Hamas won.  Abbas left.   Hamas has been the only governing authority of the Gaza Strip.
Israel has had to blockade the Strip ever since.  The reason was to keep out guns, rockets and such.  They were continually attacked by them.  Israel's towns  of Sderot and Ashkelon took the brunt of the attacks.  An area affecting 5 million Israelis were constantly under attack.  Israel  launched an assault in 2008-2009 because of the Qassam rocket attacks that had been bombarding Israel from Gaza since 2001.  The bombardment and ground assault left over 1,300 people dead in the territory, and destroyed over 4,000 buildings.
Bringing this up to date; Fatah and Hamas have had many fights and then would create a union.  They finally united in order to create Palestine through the UN, and Obama and Kerry recognized them, even though Hamas is a listed terrorist group.  This was in the end of June.  Almost immediately 3 teen aged boys studying Torah in Judea were kidnapped and killed, but this had caused a huge search by the IDF for them.  Then an Israeli boy did the same to an Arab boy as a reply.  This was all accompanied by a volley of many rockets into southern Israel which continued and rockets were then falling with longer ranges, hitting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

This brought on Israel's response of Operation Protective Edge.  Israel went in and has been there almost a month, trying to take out the rocket launchers.  They found about 32 cement-lined tunnels from where terrorists would pop  out and shoot from.  They went into Israel!  This is how ammunition was transferred along with other supplies and terrorists.

The death count in Gaza is up to about 2,000 and about 67 IDF have died.  This time, even though anti-Semitism has started all over the world, Israel is determined to finish the job of stopping the constant rain of rockets that have threatened Israeli citizens for so long.

Hamas keeps asking for cease fires and 7 times have broken them  The last was to be for 72 hours but they broke it after 1.5 hours.  They cry for freedom.  They want not only exists out of Gaza but expect Israel to stop building in Judea and Samaria.  They want everything they didn't get at the peace table with Kerry before they will accept even a cease fire to give their people relief to bury their dead.  They will not stop shooting rockets, either or recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel isn't alone.  Egypt refuses to give Hamas exits, also.  They want to have more than the 3 mile limit to fish.  This is just like their insistence to have cement and when they got it, used it in tunnel building only.  The problem here is that they cannot be trusted.  Listening today to Meshaal, I heard everything he said to be a lie.  He's asked a question and never answers it but gives some garbled answer about something he wants or expects to get.

The big question:  Israel left Gaza to the Arabs in 2005 so are really not occupying it.  Why are they holding onto rights to police the waters?  Because there has been no peace settlement.  In fact, Israel left in the name of peace with promises that they would not have weapons or attack.  That was broken immediately and the only policing done has had to be up to Israel to return fire, go in on several occasions in an operation to put an end to it.

A peace settlement was tried with Kerry but did not work.   That was to determine the political future of the area.  Israel wanted to maintain conditions of security for Israeli and Arabs alike. They wanted the people to live normal lives without losing contact with Arabs in other countries.  Israel hoped they would make possible rapid economic development and left business which were torn down by the Gazans.  Lastly, they really tried to encourage co-existence and cooperation between the Arabs and Israelis as an example for relations to come between the 2 peoples.  For a while the administered areas were tranquil and thriving.  Local affairs were administered by the local population.  Open bridges on the Jordan allowed movement in either direction between the areas and the Arab States.  Up to 1967 the Arabs and Jews had been separated and were estranged.  They were learning to co-exist until Hamas won the election.  Israel was trying.  What were the Palestinians doing?
                                                      Arafat refused a Palestinian State

Fact:  In `1947 the Arabs rejected the UN partition plan which would have created a Palestinian state.  From 1948 to 1967 Gaza was ruled by Arabs.  No thought was given to forming a state of Palestine.  It is odd that the Arabs demand that Israel do for Gaza what they were unwilling to do when they occupied the area.  President Bush said, "A Palestinian state is not the answer."  Myths and Facts wrote in 1992 that "In all likelihood, such a state would become a radical nation dominated by the PLO or Islamic extremists such as Hamas.  

The strong support for Iraq shown by residents by people of Gaza during the Gulf War was one recent example of the sort of radicalism that would likely envelop such a country.  The greatest danger would be that a Palestine could serve as a forward base in a future war for Arab nations that have refused to make peace with Israel.  

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
facts about israel, published by the division of information, ministry for foreign affairs, jerusalem.
Myths and Facts-a concise record of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard and Joel Himelfarb

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