When President Trump was reported to be talking about ‘shithole’ countries, he was probably imagining something a bit fancier than Gaza. Make no mistake, Gaza is as poor and desperate a place as there is on planet Earth. The people live in squalor without clean water on 3-4 hours of electricity a day, if that. There is 60% unemployment, with zero chance for improvement as long as the status quo stays the same. No matter what side you’re on, there can be no dispute that two million people are needlessly suffering. And needless is the key point that needs to be emphasized.
The deterioration in Gaza is a relatively recent phenomenon. Until the second intifada (uprising) broke out in 2000, Gazans lived peacefully with their Israeli neighbors, crossing the border daily for work and shopping. Since Hamas took power in 2006, Gaza has consistently fallen prey to their destructive actions which force the population to take the brunt of the suffering, while the heads of Hamas hide underground or in faraway lands. If we’re going to get serious about saving Gaza from total chaos and devastation, then we need to be honest about what is happening on the ground. The only way to stop the madness is to deal with the reality as it is, not as we’d like it to be.
While Israel may suffer PR damage from Hamas’ well-engineered propaganda campaign, it is the Palestinian people who suffer the actual physical damage, like they always do in the end. Their leaders continue to take them down the path of martyrdom instead of development, while too many around the world promote Hamas’ damaging falsehoods that do nothing but prevent the Palestinian people from improving their lot.
Here are 8 major lies that were told about Gaza in the last week, each one contributing to its continuing deterioration.
Lie #1: It’s a March of Return. All they want is to go back to their homes in Israel.
The overwhelming majority of Gazans have never set foot in Israel, let alone owned homes. They are descendants of those who fled their homes amidst the fighting in the 1948 war 70 years ago, few of whom are alive anymore. Nowhere in the world are descendants of refugees given refugee status except the Palestinians. It is a harmful exception that has done more to prolong and aggravate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than anything else in the legalistic history between them.
For 70 years the UN and Arab world has kept the Palestinians living in abject poverty in crowded refugee camps instead of helping them resettle and prosper – just as 800,000 Jews had to do when they were forced out of Arab countries 70 years ago and resettled in Israel. My Egyptian grandfather was one of them. What the Palestinians are demanding is the equivalent of me demanding to go back and live in his family home in Alexandria from 1948, even though I’ve never been to Egypt in my lifetime, and neither have my parents. Their demand for residence in Israel is as preposterous as mine is in Egypt.
Their leaders know this. Hamas admits they lied to the people about the real purpose of the riots, which is to use them as a smoke screen (literally and figuratively) to sneak their fighters in so they can maim and massacre Jewish communities on the other side of the border. Not Jewish settlements – these are legal, internationally-recognized Jewish communities that have been part of Israel proper since the founding of the state. Yet they continue to feed this lie to the people that they have any chance of succeeding in their “march of return.” There’s nowhere to return to. It’s all one big lie.
Lie #2: Israel has no declared borders
One of the most glaring acts of ignorance taking place is the lack of acknowledgement that Gaza and the West Bank are two different territories located on opposite sides of Israel. The 1967 border dispute is with the Palestinians in the West Bank. There is no border dispute with the Palestinians in Gaza.
Israel has declared, internationally recognized borders with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. There is a dispute with Syria about the Golan Heights, and with the Palestinians about the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Gaza was once Egyptian territory, but they renounced all claims in the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. However, Israel wants nothing to do with it and unilaterally withdrew in 2005. There is no border dispute in Gaza where the riots are taking place.
Lie #3: It’s a peaceful protest
There is nothing peaceful going on, nor is it a protest in the sense of how we understand protests and marches in the Western world of rallies, speeches and actual marching somewhere. In Gaza, what is happening are violent riots with knives, meat cleavers, bombs, grenades, Molotov cocktails, slingshots shooting stones, kites setting fires, rioters destroying their own infrastructure and anything else they can get their hands on.
WATCH: Armed with knives, Palestinian rioters crossed into Israel, wanting to kill Israelis. Not an unarmed protest.
Posted by Israel Defense Forces on Thursday, 17 May 2018
The leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, publicly stated that the goal of the riots is to break through the border fence and stampede into Israel so they can “tear out their hearts from their bodies”. These aren’t the words of a rogue operative. This is the head of Hamas. Look at the evidence. This is not a peaceful protest.
Lie #4: Israel is randomly shooting innocent people
Israel doesn’t shoot just anybody it catches crossing its border, as thousands of African refugees currently living in Israel can attest to. Israel does shoot terrorists trying to infiltrate and attack it. Hamas has admitted that 50 out of 62 killed on Monday’s peak violence were its members, and Islamic Jihad claimed 3 more as their members. They were not shot just for being terrorists – they were in the middle of taking terrorist actions such as laying bombs and IEDs by the border.
That’s not to say there aren’t innocent casualties. There are always innocent casualties on the battle field. But the ratio of Hamas fighters involved in the death toll can only lead one to assume that nobody was shot playing in a drum circle or singing hymns for peace. The IDF has a full command structure for every person killed by a sniper, with each bullet being approved and accounted for by the commanding officer.
The fact that thousands were wounded instead of killed, and many were shot in the legs, is proof enough that the IDF is trying whatever means possible to stop the forward motion of the rioters without killing them.
Why would they kill them for no reason? What does Israel have to gain from that? Knowing that there are cameras everywhere, why would Israel bring upon itself the scorn of the world and threats of international investigation if it had any other choice? Any serious analysis of Israel’s rational self-interest will recognize that Israel is acting from a position of self-defense, and while one may not agree with the methods, these deaths are not the result of malicious intent.
The IDF has tried less severe riot dispersal means used in the West Bank, but water cannons and rubber bullets don’t work at these distances, while the amount of people charging at once renders them useless anyway. Israel has no choice but to neutralize any attempt to destroy the border fence. The ramifications of thousands of Palestinians breaking through and storming Israeli border communities will be monumentally greater than anything we’ve seen so far. We are talking thousands of dead, not dozens.
The job of an army is to protect the borders and the people. That is what the IDF is doing, and it’s what we’d expect any army to do in any country. The Palestinians have been warned endlessly that any attempt to infiltrate will be neutralized with deadly force. Those who continue to make attempts are committing suicide for a photo op, and Hamas knows it. The image of dead Palestinians only benefits one entity, Hamas. This is what they want.
Lie #5: These are spontaneous riots and can’t be controlled
As ordinary Gazans struggle to put food in their children’s mouths, Hamas somehow has the money to pay people $100 per day to attend the riots and $500 if they get injured, while forcing women and children to go up to the fence as human shields.
BREAKING: Hamas terrorist who reached the border fence between Gaza and Israel caught on camera explaining how Hamas forces civilians to participate in violence against Israel
Posted by Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Hamas has also admitted that it can stop the riots in minutes, which they did last Monday as soon as they feared Israel would start targeting their leadership for assassination.
All of this needless death and violence can be stopped instantly if Hamas would allow it. It’s not unlike the war in 2014 when people were trying to flee the fighting and were forced back in to act as human shields for Hamas. This is their modus operandi.
Lie #6: Israel is choking off Gaza and not letting in humanitarian aid
Israel lets in tons of humanitarian aid on a daily basis and has always done so. In the last month, Hamas has repeatedly burned down the main crossing at Kerem Shalom, where Israel transfers fuel and aid from other countries. Israel offered the Palestinians direct aid and medical assistance until they can restore it. Hamas refused. They are forcing the people to suffer needlessly so they can manipulate the optics.
Lie #7: An 8-month old baby died from tear gas
Although one has to wonder why anyone would bring an infant to a battle scene, shortly after this lie got around a Gazan doctor declared that the baby died from complications which had nothing to do with tear gas. This is Hamas propaganda seizing on one tragedy to prolong another.
Lie #8: Israel is occupying Gaza
This is the biggest lie of them all. There is no Israeli occupation in Gaza. Read it again. There is no Israeli occupation in Gaza.
While Israel is still occupying the West Bank in every way, in 2005 it unilaterally withdrew every last vestige of occupation in Gaza, asking nothing in return, and leaving nothing but the greenhouses for the Palestinians to continue benefiting from their agricultural developments (which they destroyed immediately). Israel does not make any claims on Gaza, nor is there one Israeli soldier or settlement left in Gaza. Hamas is the only ruler in Gaza.
The blockade that exists on Gaza’s coastline is enforced by both Egypt and Israel, in order to stop Hamas from importing weapons from Iran. Egypt is no less a partner and a believer in the blockade, because they know that there’s no other way to stop the flow of weapons until Gaza is run by a responsible entity. Gaza is a mess, but it is not occupied by anyone other than Hamas.
The West Bank vs. Gaza
Everything legitimate about the Palestinian cause is found in the West Bank. It is relatively peaceful, as the Palestinian Preventive Security works closely together with Israel to prevent terror attacks and keep the calm. Their economy, while still having lots of room to grow, is stable and functioning. The West Bank is where a future Palestinian state could take form, and it’s reasonable to believe that with the right leadership on both sides, and a neutralization of the Iranian threat, we can get there one day.
In Gaza, however, there is nothing but poverty, terror and hopelessness. Hamas’ stated goal of destroying Israel is never going to happen by any stretch of the imagination, so why are they making the people suffer endlessly for the last decade with false hopes about going “home” instead of giving them real hope for any realistic future? Why do they continue to take the billions donated in international aid and use it to buy rockets that get shot down and build terror tunnels that are destroyed, instead of buying food and medical supplies, building schools and hospitals?
Although the West Bank is complicated, Gaza is not. The people responsible are the ones running it, and they’re running it into the ground. If anyone wonders why Israel is adamant about staying in the West Bank, look to Hamas in Gaza (and Hezbollah in Lebanon) for what happens when they leave.
For all Mahmoud Abbas’ anti-Semitic diatribes and dissertations, it must be acknowledged that he has consistently rejected violent methods as the leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. He begged Hamas to “keep the children away from border confrontations.” This is a man we can talk to, no matter how distasteful it may be. In Gaza there is no one to talk with until someone other than a terrorist organization funded by Iran is ruling it.
Hamas continues to lie and blame Israel for their desolation in Gaza, but Israelis know the truth about what happened and how we got to this point. Israelis will continue to build up their portion of the land, while the Palestinians in Gaza will be forced to sit another 70 years in squalor believing the lies that are prolonging their suffering, every drop of which can be traced back to Hamas.
To end their collective misery, we must begin by telling the truth. The only way to fix Gaza, is to free Gaza – from Hamas.