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September 11, 2005


As "triumphant" Palestinians set fire to synagogues in Gaza, the Associated Press obligingly reported that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas saw Israel's administration of Gaza as "aggression, injustice, humiliation, killing and settlement activity."

A more incisive look at Israel's Gaza "experiment," often overlooked by the media, can be found in September's Jerusalem Report. Settling Gaza was seen as paramount to national security:

... what was it all about? Why did Jews settle in Gaza in the first place? ...

The initial consensus [in Israel's 1967 government] was that Gaza would eventually be annexed and serve as a buffer against invasion from Egypt, still seen then as Israel's most dangerous foe. ...

Middle East Historian Dan Schueftan ... acknowledges that there was ... a 1967 strategic rationale. "The thinking at the time was that Israel should have bases on the traditional invasion route from Egypt to the north ... and that it should have a presence in Gaza to control terror against Israel, which had been rife ..."

The second phase of settlement in Gaza came after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. ... After the war, in which Israel was taken by surprise and which left the country traumatized, the new government under Labor's Yitzhak Rabin planned a major settlement project at what became the Katif Bloc to beef up the buffer against Egypt ...

The third and most expansive phase of settlement in Gaza came after the right-wing Likud leader Menachem Begin came to power in 1977 and made peace with Egypt in 1979. The consequent evacuation of Israeli settlements in the northeastern Sinai adjacent to Gaza, including the town of Yamit, only gave the Gaza project added momentum, with the role of the Gush Katif settlements as a buffer between Egypt and Gaza now seen as even more important.

Posted by at September 11, 2005 11:41 PM


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