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Gaza, Israel, Palestinians — Some History Needed

Monday, January 5, 2009

At this moment Israeli troops are in the midst of fierce battles with Hamas militants deep in the Gaza Strip. In many major cities around the world there are loud and emotional protests from both sides. Pundits, “Mid-East Experts” and Television Journalists deliver the propaganda 24/7 on cable news outlets.

We need a little historical perspective to understand what got us here. And there’s plenty of history — 62 years worth in regards to the Gaza Strip.

Jews have been living in the area now called Israel, originally known as Palestine since the 13th century BC. (see: Arab-Israeli Conflict and History of Israel and “Palestine”.

Media gets it's 'shot' as "Palestinian" gets his

Media gets it's 'shot' as "Palestinian" gets his

First, there is one talking point “fact” that I would like to destroy — as I have been hearing it every day since the first Israeli aerial assault began.

“The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated place in the world.”

Population Density (persons/sq. mile)

  • Gaza     8666
  • District of Columbia     9176
  • Gibraltar     11,990
  • Singapore     17,751
  • Hong Kong     17,833
  • Monaco     41,608
  • Macau     71,466
  • Cairo     82,893
  • Calcutta     108,005
  • Manila     113,810

In 1947, the United Nations’ debated Resolution 181, a partition plan for Palestine with the creation of a Jewish Palestinian State and an Arab Palestinian State. Arab leaders rejected the plan, but Jewish leaders approved it and the state of Israel was created.

After Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen attacked Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war began. Israel not only survived but won.

A splinter of territory around Gaza City came under Egyptian military rule following the end of 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The territory — to become known as the Gaza Strip — was defined by the ceasefire lines. Egypt proclaimed the Gaza Strip was to be held in trust for the Palestine Arabs. Trans-Jordan was given the territory we now know as the “West Bank”.

Glossed over in many news report today, is the mention of “Palestinian Refugee Camps”. Prior to the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, about 400,000 (other figures say 800,00) Arabs on their own accord, fled Israel — about half settled in the Gaza Strip. The Arabs that remained in Israel were given Israeli citizenship.

These so called “Refugees”and the “Palestinian plight” is a myth begun by Yassir Arafat who was born in 1929 in Cairo, son of an Egyptian textile merchant.

Arafat took no part in the beginning of the Palestinian movement ― the 1948 Arab-Israeli war ―  but he would nonetheless claim refugee status throughout his life: ‘I am a refugee,’ he cried out in a 1969 interview, ‘Do you know what it means to be a refugee? I am a poor and helpless man. I have nothing, for I was expelled and dispossessed of my homeland.’ (Arafat’s congenital lying would continue for decades.)

In the mid-1950s, Arafat joined the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, then rose to the head of the Palestine Student Union at the University of Cairo. In the late 1950s Arafat moved to Kuwait,  where he co-founded Fatah (‘Palestine National Liberation Movement’ ― an acronym meaning ‘conquest’), the faction that would later gain control over the entire Palestinian movement.

The PLO’s charter stated, “the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence”. This precept, violence against Israeli civilians is still a part of both Fatah and Hamas today.

Beginning in 1965, from his stronghold in Jordan, Yassir Arafat brought terrorism to Israel and the world. The PLO repeatedly attacked Israeli buses, homes, villages and rail lines.

In 1970 Palestinians hijacked four Western airliners and blew one up on a Cairo runway to both embarrass the Egyptians and Jordanians and, in their words, “teach the Americans a lesson for their long-standing support of Israel.”

King Hussein drove Arafat’s faction out of  Jordan (causing thousands of civilian deaths), they relocated in Lebanon. Arafat soon triggered a bloody civil war in his previously stable host country. Simultaneously, the PLO launched intermittent attacks on Israeli towns from southern Lebanese positions.

In Sept. 1972, Fatah-backed terrorists kidnapped and murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games. And in 1973, Arafat ordered his operatives in the Khartoum, Sudan office of Fatah to abduct and murder US Ambassador Cleo Noel and two other diplomats.

In 1978-82, the IDF invaded Lebanon to root out  PLO groups. The U.S. brokered a cease-fire deal in which Arafat and the PLO were allowed to leave Lebanon; Arafat and the PLO leadership settled in Tunisia, which remained his center of operations until 1993.

In 1993, the U.S., under Bill Clinton, led Israel and the PLO to finalize the Oslo Accords, an agreement that called for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over a five-year period. In 1994, Arafat moved his headquarters to the West Bank and Gaza to run the Palestinian Authority.

In 1994 of all ironies, this murderer, Arafat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Israel started implementing its side of the Oslo agreements but Arafat began an unprecedented string of suicide bombings that killed scores of Israeli civilians.

In 1996 Arafat exhorted to a Bethlehem crowd, “We know only one word – jihad! Jihad, jihad, jihad! Whoever does not like it can drink from the Dead Sea or from the Sea of Gaza.”

In July 2000, U.S. president Bill Clinton attempted to keep the Oslo Accords viable by convening a summit at Camp David between Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Barak offered Arafat a Palestinian state in Gaza and 92% of the West Bank, and a capital in East Jerusalem ― the most generous offer ever from an Israeli government. Yassir Arafat rejected the offer and ended negotiations.

The breakdown of these talks led to a new round of intense fighting between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. This began the second intifada, called the al-Aqsa intifada; Hamas steps up its attacks on Israeli targets.

2001 Israeli forces invade the Gaza Strip using tanks and helicopters. The intifada has made the Gaza Strip the target for attacks by Israeli forces, which in turn fuels more terrorist attacks on Israelis.

In 2004 Israel’s parliament approves a plan to withdraw Israeli troops and settlements from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank starting in the spring of 2005.

August of 2005 some settlers are removed by force, but by mid-September all Israeli settlers are out of the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops end their 38-year presence in the area as Palestinians celebrate. Fatah and Hamas begin an intense power struggle for control of Gaza.

January, 2006, Hamas wins a surprise victory in Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats. Hamas and Fatah struggle to find a way to work together. Hamas says it has no plans to pursue peace talks with Israel, while Western nations refuse to work with the new Hamas-dominated parliament.

On June 25, 2006, Hamas militants kill two Israeli soldiers and abduct Cpl. Gilad Shalit inside Israel. Israel continues its campaign of targeted assassinations against the Hamas leadership. Hamas fires rockets into southern Israel.

Since 2006 Hamas has launched over 7,200 rockets (Grads, Qassams) and mortars at Israel.

In March, 2007, a unity government is formed between Hamas and Fatah to try to stop the factional violence, but it takes until May to get a truce.

But by early June, 2007, the street fighting in Gaza reaches a new level of intensity. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dismisses the Hamas-led unity government on June 14. Hamas later takes full control of Gaza. Abbas takes control of the West Bank.

In June, 2008, Hamas and Israel reach a ceasefire to halt the cross-border rocket attacks and end Israeli offensives in Gaza. The truce ends six months later. Palestinians accuse Israel of never completely opening its border, while Israel accuses Hamas of continuing its rocket attacks. Palestinian rocket attacks resume and Israel closes the border again.

From November 4th through December 27th, 2008, Hamas launched 730 mortars and rockets at Israel’s civilian population centers.

On December 27th, 2008, Israel began it’s air offensive.

For over 3300 years Arabs and Jews have been fighting. How many years will it take to negotiate lasting Peace?

Added Update: Fauxtography is now showing up in Gaza: Green Helmet’s Successor?

(Additional sources for this post: Give Gaza to Egypt, Getting the real story in GazaGAZA REFUGEE CAMP PROFILES, Why Palestinians Still Live in Refugee Camps)

Posted: 0300PT 01/05/09


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One Comment leave one →
  1. Monday, January 5, 2009 11:55 am

    “Jews have been living in the area now called Israel, originally known as Palestine since the 13th century BC.” Correction: the area was NOT originally known as Palestine. The land of Canaan was inhabited by Semitic, non-arabian, tribes – amongst them the Philistines. They were long since lost to the sands of time, when the land of Israel, at the time known as Judea, was conquered by the Romans. To shame the Jewish rebels, the Romans renamed Israel “Palistine”- the Latin name for the Philistine nation . . .

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