Gaza: Some historical background
At bedtime, Arthur James Balfour’s devout Anglican mother read to young Balfour the Old Testament stories about how the Jews escaped from Egyptian captivity to reach the "promised land" of Zion. She told him how the Jews were uprooted by the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Romans and raided by the Philistines. (Early Palestinians.) She told him how the Jews struggled to return to the ancestral home they occupied for over 3,000 years. No wonder that the boy who became the British Foreign Secretary during World War I was an ardent Zionist who had much pleasure in writing to Lord Rothschild as follows:
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour.
Thirty-one years later, in 1948, the United Nations voted (33 to 13 with ten abstentions) to partition Palestine into a Jewish State and into a Palestinian State. Thirty minutes later, President Harry S. Truman recognized the State of Israel. Also in 1948, the fledgling State of Israel fought off five Arab armies, winning the Israeli War of Independence.
Up until 1967, Israel remained inside its assigned narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea, while sharing joint access to Jerusalem with Muslims and Christians.
In 1967, after winning the Six-day War, Israel added the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the Jordan River to its land mass and, thereby, achieved more defensible borders.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) demanded the return of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In 2005, hoping to stop the terrorist attacks coming out of Gaza, Israel gave the PLO the entire Gaza Strip. In 2007, the people of Gaza allowed themselves to be governed by Hamas.
Frankly, the Gaza Strip, which is about half the size of Manhattan Island, is nothing to write home about. Manhattan’s population is about 2 million. Gaza’s population is just over 2 million. Ergo: Gaza is much more densely populated than even Manhattan Island.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, Gaza suffers from some serious infrastructure problems: "Soil degradation; desertification; water pollution from chemicals and pesticides; salination of fresh water; improper sewage treatment; water-borne disease; depletion, and contamination of underground water resources."
Although billions of dollars of aid money flowed into Gaza, Hamas, with its de facto control over Gaza since 2007, put the aid money into purchasing rockets and digging tunnels under the border fence into Israel; thereby, putting hatred of the Jews over the health and welfare of Gaza. Today, Gazans fleeing Gaza should not be treated like refugees. The Gazans inflicted Hamas on themselves. For example: Did Hamas bomb its own hospital by accident or on purpose?
©2023. William Hamilton.