For those that are old enough to remember, there was a time when Gazans commuted with ease to work in Israel, and Israelis went shopping in markets in the Gaza Strip. When I first arrived in Israel many of those I worked alongside lived in places such as Beit Lahia or Beit Hanoun (two towns at the northern tip of Gaza). This continued for a while, even after the outbreak of the first Intifada.
None of that seems believable today. The Gaza Strip is a terrorist enclave, and every year or so violence erupts – just as it did last week. Rockets are fired at Israeli civilians, Israel targets terrorists, civilians in Gaza inevitably get killed, and images of dead children fill social media.
Media reporting in the west has descended into farce. Israel and Hamas (or Islamic Jihad) are held up as if they are equals. Somehow Israel is expected to lay down and play nice. How on earth do you play nice with radical Islamic terrorists who only want to see you and your family dead?
The naivety of Oslo’s hope
The descent into madness began in the early 1990s. Yitzhak Rabin (the real one, not the messiah figure), led by Shimon Peres and Shlomo Ben-Ami, imported terrorists in the naive hope that the PLO really wanted to (or could deliver) make peace. Israel legitimised the terrorist Yasser Arafat and let him bring in 1000s of ‘armed police’.
Israel literally gave guns and power to terrorists. This led to the 1994 Gaza–Jericho Agreement and a partial withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.
The Israeli right-wing claimed that giving Arafat control of Gaza would lead to rocket fire on Israeli towns. Rabin ridiculed them. He called them ‘cowards of peace’ and promised there would be no rocket fire from Gaza:
Sharon’s Gaza Strip Gambit
True to form Arafat threw away countless chances of building a Palestinian state. He said one thing in English to placate western diplomats whilst speaking very differently in Arabic to his home crowd. Arafat rejected all the peace deals that came before him while also making sure the Palestinians were arming themselves in preparation. The result of the madness was the brutal second Intifada.
Ariel Sharon was to embed the mistake even further. Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza completely, even dismantling Israeli settlements. 8000 Israelis living in towns in the Gaza strip were forcibly evicted. There were mass protests, but the withdrawal went ahead.
Gaza celebrated, with the President Mahmoud Abbas calling it “a day of joy and happiness”:
The world turned to congratulate Israel. The Palestinians rejoiced. Israel had given up land for peace in the hope that the Palestinians would take the opportunity. Sharon said that the rise of a new Palestinian leadership after the death of Arafat presented a ‘historic breakthrough’.
This is what Netanyahu wrote when he quit the Government in opposition to the plan:
“I am not prepared to be a partner to a move which ignores reality, and proceeds blindly toward turning the Gaza Strip into a base for Islamic terrorism which will threaten the state”
Not for the first time, the fears of Israel’s right-wing bloc proved all too accurate.
The election and the Gaza Strip takeover
With Israel out of the Gaza Strip, it was an opportunity for Palestinians to show they were serious about making peace with Israel. Instead, they burnt the synagogues and the fields of the Jewish settlements and voted for Hamas. These 2006 elections were the last elections Palestinians enjoyed as factional war unfolded.
Hamas ousted Fatah from the strip and began firing rockets at Israel.
Eighteen years later
These are the lessons Israel learnt – the hard way. This is why the Israeli peace camp imploded – as Israelis became aware that there is no Palestinian peace partner. It does not mean that there are not Palestinians who would make peace – but that the Islamic terrorists – those who want war – control the Palestinian street.
This means that every time Israel moved towards peace with the Palestinians – it paid a bloody price. It is worth remembering that in the 1990s there was enormous pressure to get Israel to give up the Golan. Given what happened in Syria we can only be thankful that the naivety of the Israeli ‘peace bloc’ did not leave ISIS just a few miles from Tiberias.
Egypt wanted peace – and got it. Jordan wanted peace – and got it. The Palestinian leadership has no interest in peace – it just wants Israel gone. This is why there is still conflict.
The truth is that everything we see in Gaza today is a result of Israel ‘playing nice’ and doing whatever it could to make peace. Every time Israel ceded ground, or did what the west was telling it to, the price was paid in Israeli blood.
If there was a radical Islamic enclave firing rockets and cities in the US, UK, France, or any other western nation – these nation’s forces would have obliterated the terrorists long ago – at whatever cost. In consistently showing self-restraint, Israel is – as always – going above and beyond what every other nation would do.
Never forget this when reading the distorted news reports that circulate during times of conflict.
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3 thoughts on “The Gaza Strip – always remember how we got here”
Here is the National Anthem of the Gaza Strip.
I remember that, during the signing of Oslo agreement, I wished that I could ask American President to answer 5 questions in writing.
1) What should be an appropriate reaction of Israel if Palestinians would fire a rocket onto Israel?
2) What should be an appropriate reaction of Israel if Palestinians would fire two rockets onto Israel?
3) What should be an appropriate reaction of Israel if Palestinians would fire five rockets onto Israel?
4) What should be an appropriate reaction of Israel if Palestinians would fire ten rockets onto Israel?
5) What should be an appropriate reaction of Israel if Palestinians would fire 100 rockets a day onto Israel?
About the occupation, as they say in Texas: “If you stepped on a head of a Rattlesnake, you don’t dare to lift your foot.”
Every time Israel is trying to lift an occupation, Arabs bite.
Unfortunately, Israel is divided into 4 Jewish camps! The leftist and right wing and the Ashkenazi and Sephardi. While I dont live in Israel and wish we did it is my view that Jews everywhere are fighting the world. This is not because people like palestinians more than us but rather collectively they hate jews more than arabs! For those who grew up with kumbaya view points and there are lots of them god knows why? The concept of peace is always passive acceptance. They are ignorant and foolish and blind believers. The hope brigade. On the right you have people who are on the other spectrum who are almost as bloodthirsty as the people trying to kill us. One of the most frustrating things about diaspora jews is their lack of knowledge and understanding. It is a simple fact since time began that jews are the universal scapegoat for non jews and when there is a rise in antisemitism its a barometer for global conflict. We are the canary in the coal mine. Most secular jews or assimilated jews are more left and also less informed about history that pertains to their own safety and well being. The neturei karta are just as blind through limited knowledge and understanding of anything beyond torah. Until every last living jew realises that unless israel stands we are all in jeopardy. The Holocaust was all that could be mustered in 33-45. Today there is technology and this makes the threat and the possibilities of what is possible orders or magnitude greater which I wont share here. Everything you have written David Collier is accurate. The challenge world jewry faces is the is the conflict between the dossim and the secular. This is the greatest threat because there is no status quo on the Palestinians. In the past the leadership were still part of an informed generation about the war and the global threat. Today they are generationally challenged by tattoos tiktok hip hop and escapism. The USA is still a global power militarily but this is eroding quickly. Israel and Jews are in a race for their survival like never before in history and they cant or wont see it. None of what I written is rhetoric but nobody is listening because it seems too far fetched and people are ostriches. Look at Germany and other parts of Europe before the war and you will see the foolishness. Had they all left like the 1.75 million Russians before the war they might have been saved. I left South Africa in 98. I could see the parallels and the writing on the wall. Being white in South Africa is like being Jewish in Germany from 33-39! Nobody will swallow it but ask any ex SA and they will tell you. The situation is less complex in Israel. Those who feel guilty because of the Palestinian situation are not aware of their own threat to survival and are romanticised about the situation.
There is no going back now! Good fences make good neighbours- period and all people who enjoy the safe haven of Israel while it lasts need to serve and contribute. While there are different rules for dossim and no constitution around the status quo mentioned before, Israel and the dream remains in Jeopardy. If I could shake every last jew awake to the existential threat that exists I would!