Monday, November 19, 2012

Gaza, Why We Are There


We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank God we are efficient.
Golda Meir (1969)

Since Operation Pillar of Defense began on November 14, I have become a news junkie. I have been reading many international reports of the operation, and find the level of journalism, well, simply awful.
My favorite was “This round of fighting began when Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari…. who was responsible for launching rockets into Israel, 250 in the last week.”
Does anybody see what is wrong with that sentence?
So here are some facts for those who don't know (if you already know them, don't bother reading):

The land on which Kfar Darom was settled was purchased by Tuvia Miller in 1930. In 1946, he sold it to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and a religious kibbutz was established on the evening after Yom Kippur that year as part of an 11 point settlement drive. The other 10 settlements built on the same night were: Nirim, Urim, Hatzerim, Shuval, Mishmar-Hanegev, Be'eri, Tekuma and Nevatim in the Northern Negev, and Gal On and Kedma further south. The first eight are today all in range of Gaza’s missiles and most have sustained damage.
During the War of Independence, in 1948, Kfar Darom, along with Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and other settlements in the Northern Negev, was overrun by the Egyptian army. While Yad Mordechai and the others were retaken by Palmach forces during the winter of 1949, Kfar Darom was not, and the area – which later became known as the Gaza Strip – was lost to the Egyptian army.

Between 1948 and 1967, while Gaza was under the rule of Egypt, sporadic attacks emanating from the strip killed and wounded dozens of Israeli civilians.

Israel won back the area in the 1967 Six Day War and began settlement there after the return of the Sinai to Egypt in 1979. During peace negotiations with Egypt, Israel offered the Gaza Strip, but Egypt categorically refused responsibility for it. For close to 30 years, a tense quiet prevailed. Hundreds of Arabs from Gaza were employed in the Israeli settlements and more hundreds came into Israel to work daily.

In 2001, the first rockets were fired on Sderot, which is not located in Gaza. Rockets became a daily occurrence in the settlements of Gush Katif. It was because of the ‘occupation’ said pundits, and encouraged the evacuation of the 17 Jewish villages in the strip – including the lawfully purchased and rebuilt Kfar Darom. In the summer of 2005, the Israeli Government, under Ariel Sharon, did just that. 10,000 Jews were taken from their homes. Public buildings were dismantled, hot houses, which supplied a very large percentage of Israel’s cherry tomatoes, bug-free vegetables, and exported flowers, were abandoned to the Arabs, Jewish bodies were exhumed from their resting places, and not a trace of Jewish existence was left.

On September 12, 2005 the last Israeli soldier left the Gaza Strip.

On September 23, 2005, 38 rockets were launched on the city of Sderot.

On June 25, 2006, Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border attack which left two other soldiers dead and three wounded.  Close to 2000 rockets had been shot into Israel that year.

There was no occupation of Gaza then, and it was only in 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza, that Israel (and Egypt) instituted a naval blockade of the strip to prevent ammunition from entering the area.

In the last 10 years, over 15,000 rockets have been fired into Israel. The reason is not the ‘occupation’ as, except for one Israeli soldier held against his will for five years, Israel has not occupied Gaza for more than seven years. It is not the blockade, as rockets were being fired into Israeli territory long before the blockade began.

This is not about borders, or about land, or about water rights. This is about the Jewish right to live in our Land, to work and to study, to raise children; indeed it is about the Jewish right to live.

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