An invitation to hear Dr. Benny Begin speak at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center seemed to be a worthy use of one’s evening. Never having met Mr. Begin in person, I had followed his career in politics and knew a great deal about his father Menachem from my friend Yona Klimovitsky, who served as his “right hand” as the Director of the Prime Minister’s office during Menachem Begin’s term of service. Looking at Benny throughout the evening, I felt the essence of his father reflected in his 81 year-old son. A serious man with a delightful wit… he works now with M.E.M.R.I. (the Middle East Media Research Institute), where he scours the Arab media and exposes their speeches, news reports, documents, to the English-speaking world.
This presentation was a thorough short-history of the “Gaza strip” which is now being referred to by many…not as “Gaza” but as “The Gaza.”
Admittedly unknown to me, Gaza has been a very important area throughout history. Sitting along the Mediterranean sea-front, it was a major port throughout history. Much of the Middle East in the 20th century was negotiated between France and England, and all the while Turkey fought to keep control of the port with the assistance of Germany. In 1917, on the third battle for control of Gaza… the English took control of the area.
The United Nations partition plan intended to create borders for Gaza to allow for Arabs to have a large swath of land, was a plan which extended up to Ramle, Bethlehem, Lydda and Beersheva. Israel established 11 kibbutzim immediately after the Partition plan was implemented. Six months later, the Arabs decided to invade Palestine…and shockingly they reached Ramat Rachel, where there is a thriving Kibbutz community now…and where many of us go for a quick swim in their pool on a hot summer’s day or select as our wedding venue. It is quite literally in Jerusalem… in our back yard.
It was the Arab plan, as Begin stated- “to smother the infant state of Israel.”
As a result of that war approximately 200,000 Arabs fled to Gaza. Between 1949-50 Armistice demarcation lines were created … and Gaza was reshaped with Gaza City in the North, down to Khan Yunis and Rafah at the South… bordering with Egypt. These are all names that we know from daily reports of the current Israel-Hamas war, but most of us have never looked at a map of the area… nor bothered to learn its history.
For three years, from 1953 to 1966, Egypt sponsored Fideeyun suicide bombers who were sent to Israel. They were both Palestinian, and Egyptian. This culminated in the Six-Day War which began on June 19, 1967 when Israel conquered Gaza. At the time Gaza had 350,00 people. Internal resolutions of the Israeli government, revealed that Israel from that time forward intended to keep Gaza under its control and to have a Jewish presence in Gaza for the security benefits of doing so. We now are witnessing exactly the results of what happened when Israel decided to abandon that concept.
Gaza became an integral part of Israel. The area of Netzarim was established for Jewish residents to reside without encroaching on the Arabs in other areas. Sixteen more communities were established with that purpose. From 1971-82 more were established in Yamit. In 1982 three more Jewish communities were moved from the Sinai to Gaza in the north.
Israel established the Qatif Army Base in Gaza in 1977.
Although Egypt borders the Gaza strip, it never attempted to annex Gaza. Egypt has an enormous population, and it apparently felt it simply was not worth the effort to attempt to rule such a small number of people there.
Under the Oslo agreements of 1994, control over both Gaza and Jericho was transferred to the P.L.O. (Palestine Liberation Organization), with the agreement that the Jewish communities would remain, safely… in place. Enormous resources were expended by Israel in order to keep the Israelis from harm in a difficult environment.
In 2005 the Israeli government under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, pulled all Israelis out of Gaza, causing an enormous out-cry from Israelis who understood that their enemy would now have carte blanche to do as it pleased, and were devastated to lose any of the land of Israel. One year later a local election in Gaza had a surprising result. They elected Hamas to lead them… not the PLO as was originally intended by Oslo. There has not been another election since that day. Hamas took power with brutal means, killing most of the PLO leadership and pushing them out of Gaza. The handwriting was on the proverbial wall.
Up until this point Gaza had a flow of both people and goods between itself and Israel. Israel tried to restrict the importation of products with “dual use” into the area to protect itself. This included items like pipes which could be converted into bombs. This was strictly adhered to in the beginning, but became more lax with time. This ban included chemicals which could be used for warfare… but did not include the most dangerous product of all…cement … diabolically used not for building new homes, but for a maze of tunnels, all created with the intention of the destruction of the Jewish State and its people.
It is important to take note…that there is actually no such entity as the “Palestinian people.” The name “Palestine” was given to the land under the British Mandate, and was hijacked by the Arabs residing there in order to create an identity where none previously existed.
Fast forward to the recent proclamations from the United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres who tacitly condoned the attacks of October 7th against Israel by Hamas, as a result of “the 56 year suffocation” of the Palestinian people under the “occupation.”
Mr. Begin, who is quite mild-mannered now that he has reached his eighties, was very clear in expressing his anger at this outrageous lie. He provided evidence to prove the absurdity of the claim.
At the core of the web of lies which have been repeated so often, that the world sees them as fact… is a basic deceit. The Hamas leader Marzouk when interviewed by Russian television on October 27th, answered the host whose questions were as thus: Why did Hamas refuse to make bomb shelters for the residents of Gaza? Why did they take all of their resources to create underground tunnels instead? The answer explains it all. Marzouk responded that 75% of the people in Gaza are refugees and that it is not the responsibility of Hamas to care for them. It is the responsibility of the United Nations to protect them.
Begin explained: The definition of a refugee, accepted world-wide, is quite simply those people who become homeless when forced to move from one area to another as a result of wartime. The word and the status is not applicable to their children, nor to their grandchildren. Anywhere in the world, there are children of refugees, but they are granted no assistance from the United Nations. Only the people in the Gaza strip have been erroneously labeled as refugees by U.N.R.W.A…. the organization of the United Nations which supposedly oversees their lives. We know for a fact that they oversee their text books which from pre-school upwards promote the murdering of Jews and the ultimate goal to inhabit Israel as their own state. Even their mathematics problems use “how many dead Jews …” as a part of a math question.
Out of 2.2 million people in the Gaza strip, only 600,000 people actually live in what are called “refugee camps.” But these refugee camps are not like the ones you have seen elsewhere in the world. They are not endless tents or mobile homes, affording people a terrible level of existence. These so-called camps are proper neighborhoods with real buildings, and look like poor neighborhoods that can be found in every nation, anywhere in the world.
Mr. Begin pointed out that the only people in Gaza who are the actual original refugees are those who went there from 1948 to 1949. There are only 20,000 people alive in Gaza today who qualify by international standards to be called “refugees.” And yet, the United Nations (and by extension all of the nations of the world which finance it), support more than 2.1 million people who should have created their own economy with the funds afforded to them for that purpose. Instead, they diverted them for the building of tunnel infra-structures which existed only to protect the members of Hamas, to store their weapons and vehicles, offices, bombs , and missiles…with the ultimate aim of the destruction of the Jewish state.
The so-called “oppressed” Gazans managed to build themselves 32 shopping Malls. Someone was supporting the shops in those malls. They could not have been that impoverished. When food shopping…their markets were full of fruit and veg before their grotesque barbaric attack on 1,200 Israelis on October 7th.
Consider the following: International health organizations report that the average Gazan lifespan is 76 years… and compare that to their Palestinian brothers and sisters in Jordan, who have only a 75 year lifespan. The GDP of the per-capita population of Gaza was found to be twenty percent higher than that of the average Jordanian. The number of physicians available for their population per 10,000 citizens was 22. Jordan had 25. Compare that to Egypt … who have only 7 doctors for every 10,000 people. There was nothing about the Gazan lifestyle which was oppressed by anyone other than Hamas itself which took the funding given to it by the European Union and other countries, to create wealth for their own leaders who live in luxury in Qatar.
The information Mr. Begin imparted is well documented. We all need to be able to impart these facts to those spewing their lies in support of those who perpetrated the malicious, vile acts on Israeli innocents on October 7th, 2023. We must believe that “truth” will … at the end of the day… triumph.