Anyone who knows the basics about the Torah and Judaism understands the importance of freedom of choice that is given to Jews and humankind by God. God says in the Torah that He has put good and evil and life and death before us as human beings and we are all urged to choose the good and turn away from evil, and above all else to choose life!
There is a great debate going on in the world, in Israel, in Jewish communities and in Israeli security, military, governmental and political circles about the fate of the Gaza Strip now that Hamas, on balance, has basically been defeated by the Israeli Defense Forces on the battlefront, despite the fact that the war will need patience and another few months to finish the job. In the media and in international forums Hamas and the Arabs are bleating and grunting like a lame beast captured in the jaws of a much stronger pride of lions.
Basically any sane person knows that Hamas's attack on Israel on Simchat Torah October 7, 2023 was doomed to failure and would invite an Israeli counter-war to destroy Hamas and all its echelons and military structures. After three months of intense fighting this is happening and Hamas has essentially been brought to its knees as a fighting force although its mouth keeps on broadcasting pitiful lies about their own delusional "accomplishments" and leftist Israelis are trying to say the opposite.
Although the war is still ongoing, there is constant talk about what to do with the Gaza Strip and its roughly two million Arabs who originally voted Hamas into power there, supported its above ground and below ground military build up, invited Hamas fighters and bases into their own homes, schools, hospitals, organizations, mosques and provided them with manpower and anything they needed to fight a war against the Jews of Israel.
There were also Arab so-called civilians of the Gaza Strip who streamed across the borders between Gaza and Israel on October 7, 2023 in the wake of the first waves of terrorists who violently shot their way into Israel. Untold thousands of eager Arab Gazan camp followers and auxiliaries followed the first waves of Jihadist terrorists into Israel and joined in with the looting, pillaging, burning, maiming, raping, murdering and kidnapping of Israelis. They were even joined by so-called Arab "press" who shot footage and took pictures of all the mayhem and devastation of both the Jihadist terrorists and of the subsequent crazed mobs of Gazan Hamas brothers in arms that streamed into Israel attacking Jews on roads, kibbutzim, towns, army camps and anywhere else they could find them. Quite a horrible scenario for the Israelis.
Thank God, even though it has taken more than three months and the loss of hundreds of valuable Israeli soldiers, Israel has essentially been able to turn the tables on the evil murderous hordes that spewed forth from inside the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023 and establish Israeli control over much of that abused piece of land that is historically part of Eretz Yisrael, the Biblical Land of Israel.
Israel and its leaders will have to decide what to do with the Gaza Strip that it has once again conquered at great human cost. The last time Israel had total control over the Gaza Strip was from the time of the 1967 Six Day War until it was pressured to withdraw by the American George W. Bush administration in 2005 when the Israeli Prime Minister at the time Arik Sharon gave in to American pressure to in effect unleash the start of a "two state solution" and pulled all the Jews that lived and worked in the Gaza Strip out of it and made Gaza "Judenrein". Everyone knows what happened next, that Hamas fought its kindred Fatah of the Palestine Liberation Organization winning control of the Gaza Strip in both elections and by force of arms (i.e terrorism) and openly setting out on the path of "Jihad" and constant strife with the Jewish state of Israel. This culminated in the deadly October 7, 2023 catastrophe when Hamas and its allies lulled Israel and Israelis into a false sense of security and murdered over 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped over 240 people hauling them back by force into the subterranean hell that Hamas built up in the Gaza Strip from 2005 until 2023.
There are various proposals for the future fate of the Gaza Strip being floated and promoted by various parties both near and far to Israel, and here are some of them:
-The Gaza Strip belongs to the Arab Palestinians and is to be part of a future Arab Palestinian state as part of a "two state solution": This approach is what underlies the current attitudes of the Biden administration, but in all honesty it makes no sense that Israel has fought a war to liberate Gaza from the Hamas Arabs in order to create a new Arab state that will oppose and fight Israel in the future no less than Hamas did in the past.
Underpinned by the way Iran continues to support Hamas with a nightmare vision of eliminating the Jewish state of Israel, as they say, "from the river to the sea". The officials in the Biden administration who think that after all that it has sacrificed, Israel will just turn around and meekly hand over a Gaza Strip rid of Hamas for the purposes of creating a new Arab potential terror state in deja vu fashion is hallucinating because this will never happen the way things are going right now since the vast majority of Jewish Israelis are against it!
From 2005 to 2023 Israel and its army completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip and its Arab citizens were given an opportunity to prove how they could and would govern themselves and they failed miserably. During that time the Gazans could have shown the world that they know what to do with territory that comes under their rule. What they did do was to overwhelmingly vote for Hamas and back it to the hilt in its mad rush to arm itself to the eyeballs in order to fight and confront Israel.
If they were now to be given that same freedom and independence again they would in all probability repeat what they did from 2005 to 2023 and become a place that is at war with Israel. They have therefore disqualified themselves from any possibility of gaining their own state next door to Israel.
-The United States would be very wise to start the process of evacuating all Arabs from the Gaza Strip especially to fellow Islamic Arab countries, such as nearby Egypt for example, where they would be welcomed by fellow Arabs and Muslims. Egypt is the natural and logical destination for the Gazans since Egypt has vast territory to accommodate them, starting with the Sinai Peninsula, and it has a common historical bond with the Gazans since it governed and fully controlled the Gaza Strip from 1948 to 1967. In addition, all the billions of dollars in international aid that would flow to the Gazan migrants in Egypt would be to the benefit of the Egyptian economy.
-The future Gaza Strip will be run by a conglomerate of Western and Arab nations: This idea has come from none other than the current Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. How and where he got this cockamamy idea from that has never worked in the past is a mystery because such scenarios have always failed.
Before the Six Day War in 1967 the border between Egypt and Israel was patrolled by a United Nations force made up of elements from different nations. When on a whim of malice Egypt's President Gamal Abdul Nasser ordered the force removed, the UN Secretary General at the time U Thant quickly obliged and paved the way for an oncoming war that Egypt planned, and subsequently lost, against Israel.
Above Israel's northern border the area below the Litani River was supposed to be free of the Hezbollah terrorists since 2006 while the border was patrolled by United Nations observers. The presence of international observers from the United Nations did not stop Hezbollah from moving into the area south of the Litani River and arming itself to the teeth with the help of Iran whose proxy it is.
-The Gaza Strip will be run by a "reformed" Fatah the Palestine Liberation Organization: This is also a part of the Biden administration's and some international actors' fantasy about the future. Fundamentally there is no difference in the hostile and vitriolic attitude to Israel between Hamas and the PLO. As has been stated a few times by prominent Israelis, the only difference between Hamas and the PLO is that Hamas fights for the immediate destruction of Israel while the PLO wants to do it in stages by negotiation. The reality is that the level of animosity and animus between Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Israelis is a chasm that cannot be bridged at this perilous time.
The Arab Palestinians see Israel as an "occupying" power and they perceive all of Jewish Israel as "occupied territories''. Hamas terrorists are overheated rabid radicalized Islamic fundamentalists hell-bent on Jihad to kill out the Jews and to "liberate" all of what the Jews call the Land of Israel from the Jewish "infidels". On the other hand, the PLO people are more urbane and speak in the jargon of diplomatic talk, but leaving little doubt that they despise the Jews of Israel as much as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Iran.
Sadly, even most Arabs within the borders of Israel who have the privilege of Israeli citizenship have been poisoned by the ongoing hateful venom coming from the likes of either Hamas-type or PLO-type Arabs. No one should fool themselves and be under any illusions about the level of resentment, hate and violence that the Arabs in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and even in Israel proper feel and often openly express towards the Jews of Israel. Israel has no partner for this kind of outdated and moribund Oslo-type deal-making anymore.
The time for this type of "diplomacy" has come and gone and will never come to pass unless the Arabs are comprehensively defeated globally the way the Allies of the Second World War defeated the Axis of Germany and Japan, and that future time has still not arrived!
-The Gaza Strip will be run by a new federation of Palestinian Arab clans or "emirates": These so-called clans have already very vocally objected to being used as puppets by the Israelis to set up a regime that would resemble a kind of proto "United Arab Emirates". Probably the clan leaders know that they would be the first ones on a Hamas and like-minded terrorist organizations' hit list for immediate execution the moment they buy into such a hare-brained scheme.
This pipe dream notion has been floated by a former Israeli intelligence official and popular speaker Dr. Mordechai Kedar who speaks Arabic fluently and understands the Arab mentality. However, the current level of visceral violent viciousness on the side of Hamas and its so-called "Axis of Resistance" partners in crime, and the corresponding hard-line Israeli response to the October 7, 2023 massacre means that there is basically no hope of seeing moderate Arab clan leaders percolating to the surface of Palestinian Arab society at this time and become the new peaceful shepherds of a violent Palestinian flock in the Gaza Strip that for decades has worked and walked in lockstep and jawstep with their Hamas patrons and has been radicalized to the point of no return.
Egypt has proposed that Hamas and Islamic Jihad relinquish control of Gaza paving the way for a new Palestinian state: This ignores the fanatical die-hard no holds barred mentality of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who will never voluntarily relinquish control whether real or imagined, in their stranglehold over the Arab people of the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces are in the process of loosening the iron grip and stranglehold that Hamas and Islamic Jihad has over the Arabs of the Gaza Strip and it's a tough and unenviable job. Hamas and Islamic Jihad is like a cancerous and rabid disease that can only be removed by strong uncompromising clear-cut military force, which is exactly what Israel is doing to them.
Even in defeat, Hamas and Islamic Jihad can be expected to use whatever remaining resources they have to exploit all the sympathies and support they receive from Iran and Qatar and other collaborators with them, in their nefarious schemes to obliterate the Jewish state of Israel. The real puppet masters and handlers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the Iranians and they are in no mood to accommodate the world with "solutions" unless it's the notorious "final solution" to the so-called "Jewish question" of the Nazi era, and because what they are only interested in doing is creating serious and dangerous problems (and not solutions!) for Israel, the United States and the West.
-A weakened Hamas will run the Gaza Strip since it cannot be fully eradicated: This is the most bird-brained blinded vision possible and totally misreads the mood and intent of the vast majority of Israel's Jewish population and its political and military leadership. The October 7, 2023 massacre perpetrated by Hamas against Israel was a very deep wound on the level that it became a real life-threatening emergency for Israel's Jews. This massacre was the worst against Jews since the time of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish People. It was a pogrom and crusade on the scale of the original pogroms, crusades and massacres suffered by the Jewish People in their long history as victims of many antisemites and blood thirsty killers.
If Hamas thought it was being "clever" and that Israel would just view this as another localised attack, it was dead wrong. This war that was unleashed by Hamas on the sacred Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah October 7, 2023 when Israelis where enjoying a respite and celebrating a beloved Jewish Yom Tov that is supposed to be one filled with rejoicing with the Torah that instead turned into a bloodbath the likes of which had not been seen since the times of Hitler's bloodthirstiness.
That is why the consistent response of Israel in this war has been that the Israel Defense Forces will not stop, no matter what the talking heads on the media say, until they have completely and thoroughly eradicated Hamas and its venomous cohorts from the Gaza Strip and anywhere else they may raise their vicious heads. Israel will never agree to or allow any sort of Hamas presence or activity in the Gaza Strip ever again.
-The Israel Defense Forces will govern the Gaza Strip:
This seems the most likely scenario for the forthcoming future regardless if Gaza's Arabs stay or leave. After a long, hard fought war against Hamas and the battles that cost so many Israeli soldiers' lives, Israel will be keeping its army in the Gaza Strip for a long time to come and making sure that Gaza is demilitarized from any armed Hamas and Palestinian Arab terrorists and gangs. Israel does not relish this option but it has no choice once it committed itself to eliminating Hamas from the Gaza Strip once and for all.
The Arabs and the world will surely cry "occupation" and accuse Israel of "war crimes" and repeat the blood libel of "genocide" at a high pitch but they should first look in a mirror seeing their own nefarious role in fomenting hate of Israel and then should point their fingers at the Hamas leadership and its hard-line Shiite Islamist fundamentalist Iranian backers who decided to launch an unprovoked war against Israel on October 7, 2023. A major consolation for the Israelis, for whatever it is worth, is that they will be controlling a major part of the Biblical Land of Israel and bringing it under the authority of the Jewish People once again.
From a Google AI response to the question "is the Gaza Strip part of the Biblical Land of Israel?": "The Bible mentions Gaza at least 20 times. The Biblical city of Gaza is what we now refer to as the Gaza Strip...
Here are some other details about Gaza's history in the Bible:
Gaza is first mentioned in Genesis as one of the border cities of Canaan. The Israelites conquered the land under Joshua, and the tribe of Judah inherited Gaza as part of its territory. Gaza was under Philistine rule during the Biblical era of the Judges. According to Biblical accounts, Gaza fell to Israelite rule, from the reign of King David in the early 11th century BCE. When the United Monarchy split in about 930 BCE, Gaza became a part of the northern Kingdom of Israel."
So for the Jews of modern-day Israel it is a long overdue homecoming of sorts paid for in spilled Jewish blood, sweat and tears, over and over again.
-Return of Jewish settlers to the Gaza Strip:
Depending on what type of military rule Israel will extend over the re-captured Gaza Strip, and depending if Israel will move to annex parts of, or maybe even the entire Gaza Strip to Israel proper, as it annexed the Golan Heights under the premiership of Menachem Begin because of its strategic value to Israel and because Syria had used the Golan Heights as a base to constantly attack and shoot at Israel, Israel may well decide to do the same thing to the Gaza Strip for the same self-defense reasons.
Based on the precedent of the Golan Heights Law of 1981 that was backed up by the 2019 United States recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel under President Donald Trump, Israel should and could do the same with the Gaza Strip simply because it has the same existential concerns with the Gaza Strip as it had with the Golan Heights. In fact Israel had previously begun the settlement of the Gaza Strip between 1967 until 2005 until the Israeli disengagement from Gaza when Israeli Prime Minister Arik Sharon unilaterally and forcibly withdrew Israeli settlers in Gaza from Gush Katif in particular, comprising at least seventeen flourishing Jewish small towns and farming settlements:
"In August 2005, the Israeli army forcibly removed the 8,600 Jewish residents from their homes [in the southern Gaza Strip] after a decision from the Cabinet of Israel. The communities were demolished as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza." (Wikipedia).
Put side by side with what subsequently happened, that from 2006 Hamas first took full control of the Gaza Strip, armed itself to the teeth, instigated at least twenty recorded wars between Israel and Hamas between 2007 and 2022 and culminating with the worst war of them all with the 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel that resulted in the outbreak of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war it can safely be said that the-gamble-that-ultimately-did-not-pay-off-and-backfired-blowing-up-in-its-face of the 2005 unilateral disengagement by Israel from the Gaza Strip was a gigantic mistake of colossal proportions with calamitous, disastrous and tragic results for Israel in 2023.
For example, had the Jewish Israeli Gush Katif pioneering settlers not been forcibly expelled in 2005 and instead would have been allowed to grow, they would probably and positively have doubled or tripled or even quadrupled in population and in the size of their communities and the areas they settled and could have continued their pioneering work and, with the active and alert protection and participation of the Israeli army, they would have served as an important block and break and a live barrier to Hamas's poisonous aggression and expansionism from 2006 to 2023.
Hopefully, from top to bottom, Israeli political and military echelons and leadership will learn from their huge blunders and commit to not just not repeating their past mistakes of handing over historically Jewish territory to hostile Arabs while getting absolutely nothing in return besides rocket fire over Israeli towns and cities as they did in 2005. Israel then mystifyingly let down its guard to be caught with its pants down as it was in 2023.
Israel should will finally mend its ways and allow those pioneering Israelis who are willing to re-settle and rebuild and expand the once flourishing Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip to return to their interrupted mission of Yishuv Haaretz, settling the Land of Israel. Serious contemplation, and sheer guts by Israel's leaders could easily result in the realistic and logical and strategic imperative of annexing the Gaza Strip to Israel proper once and for all and let the residing Gazan Arabs wait in a long line for buses, planes and ships to be admitted as the refugees that they are to other Arab and European countries that should be happy to have them as their own new proud immigrants with all the fanfare they are willing to extend to them.
-The resettlement of the Gaza Strip's Arabs to other countries:
Lately two Israeli government ministers, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Betzalel Smotrich have been unfairly vilified for openly advocating for the permanent resettlement to other countries of the Arabs in the Gaza Strip. They are not the only ones advocating for this, Likud MK Danny Danon and Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben-Barak co-wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that "The West Should Welcome Gaza Refugees" (Nov 13, 2023). As radical as these ideas may seem yet the world on a gut level understands this.
It's not so complicated really because since the Arabs of the Gaza Strip voted in and supported Hamas all along, they must share in Hamas's fate and demise in the Gaza Strip proper, which is a logical and rational conclusion. It is highly improbable and impractical that suddenly over two million hotly pro-Hamas Gazan Arabs be quickly and thoroughly de-radicalized after so many years of hating Israel and being brought into the bosom of Hamas and its ilk.
The Arab Gazans' support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad by giving them their sons, brothers, husbands as fighters and having opened up their homes, schools, social services, hospitals, mosques, organizations and everything else in between for the pleasure and leisure and use of Hamas makes them directly complicit with Hamas and they have already been paying a high price for their being partners in crime with the Hamas terrorists and supplying them with all the manpower, services and support that they needed for decades.
An article published by the Middle East Institute acknowledges the possibility of the migration of Arabs from the Gaza Strip. In an article "Five Scenarios for Gaza and how the International Community Can Shape Its Future" (Nov 3, 2023), even though it is given as the scenario for "another Nakba" the depth of the thought being given to this possibility is described as follows: "An even bleaker scenario involves the permanent expulsion of hundreds of thousands or even millions from the Gaza Strip...Likud deputy Ariel Kallner, for example, tweeted on Oct. 17, 'Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 48. A Nakba in Gaza and a Nakba for anyone who dares to join!'
Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nissim Vaturi, also of the Likud party, 'Nakba?! Expel them all. If the Egyptians care so much for them — they are welcome to have them wrapped in cellophane tied with a green ribbon.' Moreover, an internal paper from the Coordinating Ministry for the Intelligence Services recommends the 'evacuation of the civilian population from Gaza to Sinai' as an 'executable option' that would 'yield positive, long-term strategic outcomes for Israel.'
Tellingly, Prime Minister Netanyahu lobbied Europeans to pressure Egypt into accepting refugees from Gaza. Reversing an earlier stance by the United States government, the National Security Council’s Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby announced that the U.S. would talk to Egypt about the possibility of hosting Palestinian Arabs fleeing the Gaza Strip.
Arab states have made it clear that they are not willing to take in Palestinian Arab refugees as this could once more result in their permanent displacement. Yet a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza could incite a mass rush to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt that the latter would struggle to contain even through force. Refugee camps would then spring up in the Sinai, and new migration routes to Europe would quickly emerge. The Gaza Strip would be partially depopulated and the future of those who remain uncertain."
Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are at a critical existential crossroads. The Arabs of the Gaza Strip backed the wrong horse in this race and lost. They have become displaced in a war they supported and waved flags for, and that their Hamas leaders chose to instigate, based on their own misguided and twisted mis-calculations. Hamas made the fatal wrong decision and underestimated the will of Israel, Jewish Israelis, and the civilized world's response to their acts of barbarism against Israel on October 7, 2023.
Before October 7, 2023 Israel miscalculated badly by relying on Hamas's and Arab Palestinian's passivity and their acquiences with Israel's mood of peaceful co-existence with its Arab neighbors and in turn paid a high price in Israelis murdered and maimed, Israeli populations displaced and Israeli property damaged and destroyed.
Now Israel and its leaders face serious choices about the kind of future they are now willing to really fight for and win that will bring them true security and strength into the coming decades.
Rabbi Yitschak Rudominis an alumnus of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and of Teachers College–Columbia University. He heads the Jewish Professionals Institute dedicated to Jewish Adult Education and Outreach – Kiruv Rechokim. He is the author of The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy.
Contact Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin at [email protected]