The Gaza Strip: Myths and Facts - Part III

History has shown that Israeli invasions are much worse for Palestinians than Israeli "occupations". The Israeli "occupation" of the Gaza Strip is the most benign military occupation in the world - much less brutal than, say, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which the Palestinian Authority officially supports.

Barry Verstaendig,

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צילום: ערוץ 7
[Parts one and two of this article can be read at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/article.php3?id=4989 and http://www.israelnn.com/article.php3?id=4993, respectively.]

Myth #4: The Israeli settlers living in the Gaza Strip are being offered adequate compensation to move elsewhere.

Suppose that someone assessed your house and offered to buy it from you for a fair price. Would you move? Probably not, unless you were planning to move anyway. Why not? Because your home is worth more to you than the mere value of your house. Most people, if they were happy living where they were, wouldn't leave their friends and communities for all the money in the world.

The enormous logistical challenge of moving more than eight thousand people over the course of a few months and building new houses for them someplace else pales in comparison to the cost of moving businesses and finding jobs for the settlers elsewhere.

Many of the settlers living in the Gaza Strip make their livelihoods from local agricultural businesses. The largest infrastructure that those businesses depend on - the fields and hothouses - cannot be picked up and moved. Even if the farmers are paid a fair price for their land and the buildings on it, it will take years, several growing seasons at least, to prepare new fields for farming and build new hothouses. What income will the farmers have during that time?

Additionally, the Gaza Strip is a marshy area with fertile soil. If the communities in the Gaza Strip are moved to the Negev Desert, as Sharon would like, the farmers will certainly not be able to expect the same yields they received in the Gaza Strip; at least, not initially.

There is no way that the 1.9 billion shekels allocated to compensate the settlers can pay for all of the costs involved. What are the settlers - some of whom have large families with many children - supposed to do the first night that they are no longer living in the Gaza Strip? Where will they sleep? Shouldn't the government of Israel be building new houses for them now if it wants them to move over the summer?

And what kind of compensation are the settlers going to receive for the psychological damage of being forced to leave the homes they built and lived in for so many years? What kind of compensation will they receive for having to watch terrorists who hate Jews more than anything in the world firing guns in celebration from the tops of their former homes?

"Settlers" are not the monsters that both the Israeli and foreign media make them out to be. They have feelings, too. They are not violent people. Most of them are not religious extremists (though some are) who believe that they are fulfilling some kind of messianic goal by living in the Gaza Strip. They are merely regular people who, like other Israelis, Americans, Palestinians, and all people, want to live peacefully in their own houses. But unlike other Israelis, Americans and Palestinians, they are being denied that right.

Myth #5: Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip will be good for the Arabs who live there.

All Palestinians are not terrorists. Most of them want exactly want the Israelis want and, in fact, what most people want: the freedom to live comfortably in their own homes and to exercise power over their own futures. They want to work hard and make money to improve their standard of living, and they want their children to be educated and live even better lives. But the Israeli settlements in Gaza are not taking that away from them. To insist that the presence of the settlements in Gaza is making life unbearable for the Arabs would be akin to Israeli Jews complaining that the Arab citizens of Israel are taking their happiness away from them.

What can make life very unpleasant for the Arabs living in the Gaza Strip, though, is an Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip in response to terrorist acts committed against Israelis by terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip. And since the various factions that have opposed any kind of agreement with Israel have virtually guaranteed that a withdrawal by the Israelis will only lead to an increase in violence against Israel, it should be clear that the happiness of the Arabs living in the Gaza Strip will eventually be shattered by an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.

History has shown that Israeli invasions are much worse for Palestinians than Israeli "occupations". The Israeli "occupation" of the Gaza Strip is the most benign military occupation in the world - much less brutal than, say, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which the Palestinian Authority officially supports.

The Israelis did not seize lands owned by Arabs for their settlements, as many people claim. All lands that Israelis use were purchased and taken possession of through due process. In fact, some land that Israeli settlements are built on belonged to Jews prior to 1948, when the Egyptians occupied the Gaza Strip and drove the Jews out.

When the Israelis took the Gaza Strip in 1967, they did not attempt to drive the Arabs living there out, or even make things unpleasant for them so that they would leave. Instead, they made peaceful overtures to the Arabs. For over twenty years, as long as the Arabs living in the Gaza Strip did not attack Israeli soldiers or civilians, the Israeli army pretty much left them alone and let them go about their daily affairs without being bothered. Once Arabs began to attack Jews, however, things deteriorated rapidly for them. Their movements became constricted by checkpoints and their children were killed when terrorist leaders - who purposely placed themselves in heavily populated areas in order to use others as human shields - were assassinated by Israel as it tried to prevent future terrorist attacks against its own population.

Many Arabs living in the Gaza Strip work in Israel. Every time Israel closes the Gaza Strip to the rest of the country because of an intelligence report stating that terrorists from Gaza are intent on getting into Israel to kill people, the Arabs of the Gaza Strip either cannot go to work or cannot go home. Many have lost their jobs permanently as Israel has begun hiring workers from other countries to do the jobs the Palestinian Arabs were doing.

Thus, a small population of hate-mongers, who would rather give up their own comfort than stop crusading against the Jews, has succeeded in making things difficult for the entire Arab population of the Gaza Strip. However, these strongmen are exactly the types of people who will exercise control over the Gaza Strip once the Israelis leave, bullying the common people into doing their bidding. Once the Israeli "occupiers" are gone, the Arab bullies will make life much more miserable for the average Palestinian family.

Hopefully, Ariel Sharon's government will fall before the summer and the Israeli "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip will never come to pass. If it does, it will be disastrous for the Israeli economy and the society of the Jewish State.

[Part 3 of 3]




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