Much has been written and argued over the Israeli settlements that now exist on land that the International Community considers to be the “occupied territories” of the incipient Palestinian state. That state is supposed to include the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. It is being argued that the existence of these Israeli settlements is the cause of the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians in their mutually stated aim of creating two states, living side by side in peace and security.
In 2005, then-Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon believed in that vision and with the approval of the Israeli parliament ordered the dismantling of all 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip as the first step in reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Those Jewish settlements included private homes, schools, synagogues, farms, businesses, hothouses, and small industries that actually provided Israel with the best produce available. Indeed, the unilateral dismantling of those communities, without any reciprocal gestures by the Palestinians, was traumatic for the settlers, and represented considerable economic loss for the Israelis. But they were willing to make that sacrifice in the interest of peace.
But the reaction of the Palestinians was not quite what the Israelis expected. First, all of the productive assets left behind by the Israelis were destroyed. Then the Gaza territory was taken over by the Hamas party, which saw their victory in Gaza as merely one step in an ongoing war to destroy Israel. They began their rocket attacks on towns and communities in Southern Israel, which they hoped would force Israel to abandon the land. However, the attacks had just the opposite effect. Israel had expected to achieve peace with Gaza, and instead they got war, which finally forced the IDF to invade Gaza in January 2009 to put a stop to this constant reign of terror.
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)