Gaza: A Historical Perspective

gz-map-320x343The following is by Steven I and I am re-blogging for it’s historic content; so relevant in todays misunderstanding of this land called Israel.  But God gave this land to the Jews through Abraham in Genesis 12.  It is HIS…(God’s).  Quote:

“No other land dispute attracts more attention or generates more debate than the Arab-Israeli conflict, as both sides contend for the attention and solidarity of the world. However, I am reminded what one of my professors in undergrad studies once wrote, “The most pressing truths are not in fact ‘profound’ truths, but how do we find the truth in midst of the all the narratives we are presented with?”  We must rescue the straightforward and abundant historical facts from the ideologues. Also, as Mitchell Bard reminds us, “Israel’s enemies have become very sophisticated at manipulating the media.” It is necessary that we educate ourselves and be ready to respond to complex and often emotional (not to mention false) claims against Israel.[1]

Gaza: From Biblical Times to Today[2]

The first mention of Gaza is found in the Book of Judges, which talks about a Philistine city where Samson’s death is recorded. Israel took control of Gaza in the Hasmonean era (c. 140 b.c.e to 37 b.c.e), and the region is known to have Abraham and Isaac as residents, at the very least in close proximity (e.g. Gerar). At one point Gaza was a major port controlled by Israel, although the Jewish population waxed and waned. The variances in the Jewish population of Gaza can be dated back to 61CE, but there was a constant Jewish presence in the region until 1929. That year, Jews fled the region following violent Arab riots that left over 130 Jews dead. The British subsequently prohibited Jews from returning, and eventually Egypt was given control over Gaza.[3]

Between 1947 and 1956, Israel gained and relinquished control of Gaza twice, finally regaining control of the area in 1967. For some time Arabs and Jews lived together in relative harmony with few problems – the most notable and deadly conflict being the First Intifada, which began in 1987. After the Oslo Accords (1993), Israelis made concessions and began to withdraw from the area. Between 2000 and 2005 tensions and Palestinian violence against Jews flared up during the Second Intifada. In 2005 Israel withdrew from Gaza completely, and the Palestinian Authority began attacking Israel =launching 4,000 rockets since 2011, as many as 9,000 since 2005, and 1, 000+ since July 7, 2014.  In 2006 the terrorist group Hamas won the majority vote of the Palestinian legislature and began to attack and silence any and all opposition, including fellow governing groups such as Fatah (the PLO). By 2007, Hamas was in full control of Gaza.

Operation Protective Edge

The current threat from Gaza is no different from the previous major operations since 2005: “heavy rocket fire on Israel’s civilians.” Israel’s critics are quick to point out the Palestinian death toll. However, what is often ignored is the fact that Israel is protecting its citizens, which includes Jews, Arabs, Christians, and Muslims, while Hamas is using its citizens as human shields, and using civilian infrastructure as storage facilities for weapons.  Many civilians participate in this willingly. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out a response paper in 2008 reminding its critics that “International law recognizes that civilian deaths and injuries may occur in lawful military operations. For an operation to be lawful it must be directed at a ‘legitimate military objective’ and be ‘proportionate.’ Under the Geneva Convention, as well as customary international law, if a military objective such as a missile launcher or weapons stockpile, is placed in the heart of a civilian area, it does not cease to be a lawful military objective. The primary responsibility for civilian causalities arising from the ‘shielding’ lies with the party that deliberately placed civilians at risk.” Dr. Amichai Cohen from Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center) reminds us that proportionality is often manipulated and misunderstood in modern warfare. “Especially in asymmetric conflicts, where one side is a state and the other a non-state combatant … The non-state actor, sometimes a terrorist organization, sometimes a rebel force, uses civilian populations as a shield to protect its fighters. This method of war is of course a war crime, and one of the worst ones, at that.”[4]

The current operation in Gaza is a fight for peace. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sums it upperfectly: “Israel cannot accept a reality in which millions of its citizens are subject to the whims of radical Islamic terrorist organizations …”  Professor Efraim Inbar and Dr. Eitan Shamir (BESA Center) weighed in on the topic as well: “Israel’s goal continues to be the establishment of a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety without constant indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.”

The Obstacles to Peace

It is the Palestinian leadership that is the greatest obstacle to peace. Zahir Muhsein, PLO executive committee member, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper “Trouw,” March 31, 1977 was quoted as saying, “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity.” The leadership of the Palestinian people is determined to destroy the Jewish state and the Jewish people, as outlined in their Charter (i.e. Covenant), which calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. Palestinian desires for statehood do not include peaceful co-existence with Israel: according to the late PLO representative, Faisal Husseini, “Our ultimate goal is the liberation of all historic Palestine from the River to the Sea.”, (Al-Arabi,—June 24, 2001).[5]

There is a new player in this deadly game: ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). ISIS has become known for its Blitzkrieg-like advance in Iraq, extremist views (e.g. forcing shop owners to veil mannequins), and severe oppression of Christians and fellow Muslims of opposing views.  ISIS is also very anti-Israel and said to have operatives in Gaza. Charles Lister observes, “ISIS now presents itself as an ideologically superior alternative to al-Qaeda within the international jihadi community and it has publicly challenged the legitimacy of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. As such, it has increasingly become a transnational movement with immediate objectives far beyond Iraq and Syria”[6]

Israel is smaller than the state of New Jersey, covering 8,729 square miles. It is also the only democracy in the Middle East, and America’s only real friend in the region.  When one is making decisions or taking a stance on the Arab-Israel conflict, one must go beyond the headlines.  If we are not given the full story, how can we correctly assess the situation –  much less offer help?

We must demand the full story.  ”


[1]  See: Bard, M. G. (2007). Will Israel survive? New York: Palgrave Macmillan, as quoted by Honest Reporting’s in “The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Primer to Understanding the Centuries Old Struggle” Bard also references Boston University professor, Richard Landeshas’ website which has raw video footage how “the Palestinians fake everything from shoot­outs with Israeli troops to funerals. The classic scene shows a group of mourners carrying a body on a stretcher. Suddenly the stretcher falls to the ground and the ‘corpse’ runs away.”  For examples of this so-called “Pallywood” see these videos: (1)  and (2)

[2] Mitchell Bard’s Jewish Virtual Library has many great concise and clear articles. See, The Gaza Strip: History of Jewish Settlement. Retrieved from: Also see CIA Fact Book on Gaza

[3] Despite having full control of the area, the Egyptians did not go out of their way to help the Arab Palestinians, and even forbade the Palestinians’ entry into Egypt.

[4] Dr. Cohen adds, “Indeed, in this situation the principle of proportionality seems to exercise an adverse effect on the lives of civilians. Precisely because of the norm of proportionality, non-state actors actually use civilians more in battle, instead of using them less.” See: Co hen, A. (2006, August 15). Proportionality in the Modern Law of War: An Unenforceable Norm, or the Answer to Our Dilemma? Retrieved from Also, see here: for rundown of the Palestinian leadership’s defense of human shields.

[5] As quoted in Bard, M. (2008). On One Foot: A Middle East Guide for the Perplexed or How to Respond on Your Way to Class When Your Best Friend Joins an Anti-Israel Protest [Online PDF Version]. AICE, Inc. Retrieved from

[6] Lister, C. (2014). Dynamic Stalemate: Surveying Syria’s Military Landscape. Brookings Institution.

[Gaza Map Courtesy of the CIA]

Steven is the son of a mixed (Jewish-Gentile) marriage, Steven has a keen interest in Jewish/Christian relations and the Shoah. He also is interested in Israel and her history. He has a degree in Biblical Studies with an Interdisciplinary in Jewish Studies. He is currently working on his Master’s degree and serves as a staff writer and web content editor for ESFI. He is also an independant blogger for the Times of Israel.