Perspective on fury: The hell of Gaza’s Israeli-occupied and pre-Hamas history

So: The Israeli Right’s innumerable denials and Hasbara fallacies and absence of any historical perspective on the recent history of Gaza.

1.  It doesn’t matter whether there is a genuine international boundary between Gaza and Israel, or that countries including Israel (–which they most certainly do–) do have every right to defend themselves.

Often the Right couches this as something like: “Can’t the US defend itself against a neighboring country like Mexico if it needed to?”

Of  course it can  — and actually must.

But comparing Mexico and Gaza in other ways doesn’t make sense.

One need go no further than to say: Israel occupied Gaza. The United States never occupied Mexico.

And there so much more to say about this:

  1. Israel would still be in Gaza if it weren’t for the stupefying unique miracle of the right man at the right place at the right time in Arik Sharon.

And even then Sharon’s government constantly worried about Israeli Civil War when trying to pull out — and arguably the two years of Rightist stress and unrest and curses on Sharon contributed to his fatal stroke.

So without Sharon’s miraculous alignment of improbabilities, Israel would still be in Gaza — because that’s how much Israel and its Right wanted to be in Gaza. Still settling, occupying, trying to efface the boundary between Israel and Gaza, for Israelis — but not for Gazans — because of the wish for a Greater Israel in Gaza.

3. Which also is another fact: The Israeli Right didn’t want that boundary any more than it wants the Green Line. It only wanted — and wants — it to go in one direction: As far as for Gaza, Israeli Settlers into Gaza. Not the other way. So a boundary for Gazans–but again no boundary for Israelis.

4. Gaza was a hell-hole during Israel’s occupation and before Hamas.

Eminent and centrist Israeli writer Amnon Rubinstein wrote this in the Jerusalem Post on Aug 3, 2005, in his “The Existential Advantage”:

“The settlements have created, within the same territory, two kinds of residents: Israeli citizens, enjoying full rights, and Arab non-citizens devoid of political rights. In Gaza, this gap was especially outrageous.”


“A sure way to turn a person from friend to foe was to bring him to Gush Katif and show him the frightening chasm between the Jewish islands of prosperity and the surrounding sea of Palestinian misery.”

Drought-afflicted Gaza. Where the settlements had swimming pools.

This is not Hamas. This is not after Israel’s withdrawal.

This is all during Israel’s 18 years of occupation.

And if it hadn’t been for the impossible miracle of Sharon—and because of Israel’s Right this was still almost impossible–Israel would at this very moment still be occupying and expanding its settlements in Gaza.

The difference between this and the US-Mexico or any other adjacent states is that between day and night.

(And for what it’s worth Gaza wasn’t even a state.)

  1. As another key to the fact that for 18 long years Israel occupied Gaza, instead of just “adjacent to” Gaza, it barely invested inside Gaza.  It did not for example invest or establish factories inside Gaza – it had 18 years to do so and it did absolutely nothing.

No factories or other forms of economic investment for employment–or for that matter any educational investment.  No nothing.

Rather than basically investing a penny in Gaza, Israel instead invested –and invested plenty– in Greater Israel settlements and military bases.

6. 70% of Gaza’s population lived in a hellhole not just during Hamas or after the withdrawal but during the 18 years of Israel’s occupation.

And 70% of the Population of Gaza consisted — and still does — and rather stunningly — actually only of refugees expelled from Israel itself.

These are today grand- and great-grand (and so on) kids expelled or fleeing from their ancestral lands of what became Israel and not let back.

Back then, rather than today, they were not let back in 1950, 1951, 1952, and year after year as each slow long year went by.

These were babies, 8-year-olds, grown-ups, old people.

This was when 70% of Gazans were in the most literal and narrow sense refugees.

In each succeeding year of the early 50s, and all of the 50s, and into the 60s, and onward, not one of 70% of the Gazan people, and these were  were fresh and brand-spanking-new and most narrowly-construed refugees from Israel. They were in the narrowest sense refugees. Not “grandkids” but turest possible refugees.


And then when Israel occupied Gaza for long years, occupied its own refugees, far from investing or help them, far from doing anything from these exiles from Israel their occupier, it did nothing for them. No factories, no any kind of investment, just a non-Hamas “sea of misery” under absolute Israeli control.

And without the Sharon miracle, Israel would still be there, occupying, exerting absolute control, and further — if East Jerusalem and the West Bank is any precedent  — explosively expanding its own settlements in Gazan land, and among its own refugees, and refugees whom it controlled, settled, and dd not do a particle’s bit of worth to aid and help.

All before Hamas.  During the 18 years of absolute Israeli occupation.

Gaza is one of the most poor and jam-packed places on earth. Again 70% refugees from Israel — also relevant because this is what  helped make it one of the most poor and jam-packed places on earth.

And yet, and unbelievably: 30% of the destitute and jam-packed and occupied land, filled with its own refugees, Israel seized from the Gazan people in their own land and yes invested in– but not for the Gazans, but rather for its own military bases and its own Greater Israel settlements.

Why wouldn’t Gazans — again in tiny space, 70% refugees from Israel, destitute, jam-packed, non-invested-in by occupier Israel, and in addition 30% of the tiny amount of land taken from them by and for Greater Israel — feel anger?.

And continuing anger? And anger wholly apart from Hamas?

8. Some try to compare this with today’s Egypt, Gaza, and their border.

But the Gaza we are viewing was back in the long Israeli occupation.

And it never had anything to do Gaza-Egypt relations, their mutual border, or their relationship with Egypt when Egypt “occupied” them.

For starters, they didn’t occupy for sake of occupation but simply reluctantly agreed benignly to administer a stateless Gaza and Gazans.

Egypt didn’t occupy in order to carve Gaza into a “Greater Egypt project.”

Egypt also did not settle Gaza with Egyptians or Egyptian settlements.

70% of Gazans weren’t refugees from Egypt. None of the Gazans were.

70% of Gazans had not been just been expelled ancestrally from Egypt.

Instead the 70% were refugees expelled from Israel. Whose homes were ancestrally in Israel.

In sum about Egypt, it was itself a poor Third World land.

And it only reluctantly agreed benignly to administer stateless Gaza.

It had no interest in settling it as part of some “Greater Egypt project.”

There is no evidence it treated Gazans basically differently from its own citizens.

So appropriately there was no significant anti-Egypt sentiment in Gaza.

This is all, in telling contrast, about First-World Israel and its hostile occupation of Gaza.  And its lack of investment or help inside Gaza.

And 30% of Gazan land taken over for military and Israeli settlements for the Greater Israel project in tiny and destitute occupied Gaza.;

What Amnon Rubenstein called Israel-occupied Gaza’s ‘sea of misery’.

And again not after Sharon’s withdrawal but during the 18-year-long Israeli occupation that came within a hairs-breadth of lasting forever.

And forever is how long Israel’s Right wanted it part of Greater Israel.

So we are now in a position to have a good guess about what accounts for all the fury of Gaza’s destitute population of occupied and never-invested in Gaza and heavy Israeli investments going only into its settlers and military bases which took over 30% of this tiny poor jammed land.

Drought-afflicted Gaza. Where Israel’s settlements had swimming pools.

These in 30% of tiny Gaza’s already jammed-packed people and land of trapped refugees themselves who had been expelled from Israel.

With no investment in Gaza or Gazans — 70% refugees from Israel itself.

And which was supposed to last forever.

Some perspective for the events surrounding Gaza leading up to today.

About the Author
James Adler was born in Kentucky, now works in university libraries, and feels especially and intensely bound up with the fate of the Jewish people in the last hundred years, especially the Shoah, the rise of Israel "out of the ashes," and the accidental and mutually tragic collision with the Palestinians in the early and middle of the 20th century, continuing through today. He is happily married and the father of two teenagers.