Israel and Gaza

Israel and Gaza

            Robert A. Levine June 1, 2021

A small strip of land between Egypt and Israel known as the Gaza Strip has been a continuous source of conflict between Israel and the Arabs. After Israeli independence in 1948 and the war between Israel and the Arab states, Egypt gained control of Gaza where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees landed when they decamped from Israel. Today, the population of Gaza is about two millions, most of them descendants of the original refugees. In 1967 after the Six Day War, control of Gaza reverted to the Israelis who started Jewish settlements there. In the Oslo Peace Accords during the 1990s, Gaza was given to the Palestinians and the Israelis removed their settlements. However, Palestinian elections in 2006 allowed Hamas to win control of Gaza from the PLO and there have been confrontations between Israel and Hamas ever since. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the EU.                             

In 2008-09, 2012, 2014, and 2021, major conflicts erupted between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Progressives in the United States and other nations have put the onus on Israel as the aggressor because they have more and more powerful weapons than Hamas and more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed. However, Hamas is expert at asymmetrical warfare and do not care if their civilians are killed as they can then blame the Israelis for war crimes. They purposefully place their rocket launchers and mortars in civilian neighborhoods in Gaza so that civilians will be killed if Israeli forces try to destroy these weapons. In fact, all of the above noted conflicts have been started by Hamas by kidnapping and killing Israelis, shooting rockets into Israel or other acts of aggression.                                                                              

Unfortunately, right-wingers in Israeli are eager to take the bait and target Hamas and its weapons. The recent conflict also gave Prime Minister Netanyahu the opportunity to stay in office instead of facing corruption charges in court. While Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are treated poorly by the Israelis, Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and wants control of all the land from the Jordan River to the sea, which will not happen. In the past, attempts to negotiate a two state solution have failed, mainly because of Palestinian intransigence on a number of issues. Palestinians within Israel constitute about 20 percent of the population, with voting rights and representatives in the Israeli parliament. They are able to have unlimited education, attend universities and attain the positions that they desire. Israeli insistence on having a Jewish majority state is directly related to the Holocaust, where no country came forward to protect the millions of Jews who were murdered by the Germans, or provide the survivors with a home when the war was over.                                                                                       

Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel by the U.N. in 1948, there was no nation of Palestine. The area that the Palestinians claim as their homeland was Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian territory. Much of that land subsequently became the nation of Israel. In November of 1988, Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) proclaimed the founding of the State of Palestine encompassing the West Bank and Gaza. Though there were Arabs living in areas where the Israelis are now entrenched, these were actually Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians, not Palestinians.                                                                                      

After the Holocaust, the entire world believed the Jews to be victims of war crimes by the Germans. Now, because of conflicts with the Palestinians who use civilian areas to place their weapons, the Israelis have gone from being considered an oppressed people to being oppressors of the Palestinians, accused of practicing apartheid by liberals and progressives. How quickly the world has forgotten the atrocities and genocide visited on the Jews and is willing to perceive them in a negative light. However, Israel still remains the David in the fight for survival against the Arab and Iranian Goliath, with the Israelis outnumbered more than twenty to one by Arabs and the Iranian state.

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