ZOA Special Report – Gaza: The Case Against Israeli Withdrawal – U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff: Gaza is crucial to Israel’s security
ZOA in the news
February 3, 2004

On June 19, 1967, in the wake of the Six Day War, the U.S. Secretary of Defense instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to present their “views, without regard to political factors, on the minimum territory” that Israel would be “justified in retaining in order to permit a more effective defense against possible conventional Arab attack and terrorist raids.”

Ten days later, the Joint Chiefs presented a report which concluded that Israel needed to retain substantial portions of the Golan Heights, and Judea-Samaria, and all of Gaza. With regard to Gaza, the Joint Chiefs wrote:

“By occupying the Gaza Strip, Israel would trade approximately 45 miles of hostile border for eight. Configured as it is, the strip serves as a salient for introduction of Arab subversion and terrorism, and its retention would be to Israel’ s military advantage.”

Throughout history, foreign armies have used Gaza as a springboard for invading the Land of Israel, from Pharoah Sethos I in the 13th century BCE, to Napoleon in 1799.

In 1948, Egypt used Gaza as its route to invade the newborn State of Israel. Advancing through Gaza, the Egyptians approached the outskirts of Yavneh, just fifteen miles from Tel Aviv. Several Jewish towns in Gaza, including Nitzanim and Kfar Darom, were destroyed by the Egyptians and not rebuilt until after Israel recaptured the area in 1967.

What prominent Israelis
have said about Gaza:

  • Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in 2002: “Netzarim [a Jewish town in Gaza] is the same as Negba and Tel Aviv; evacuating Netzarim will only encourage terrorism and increase the pressure upon us.” (Arutz 7, Nov. 25, 2003)

  • Then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said in 1988: “To just get up and leave Gaza would be a mistake and a scandal. It would create a chaotic situation, a situation like Lebanon; I don’t suggest we take such a step.” (Israel Army Radio’s “Good Evening, Israel” program, March 22, 1988)

  • Yitzhak Rabin’s Minister of Housing and Construction, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said in 1993: “I wish I could believe that pulling out of Gaza would solve the problems. But this won’t solve anything and is only running away from the problem which we have to face.” (Jerusalem Post, March 9, 1993)

  • In 1971, Yisrael Galili, a minister in the cabinet of Golda Meir’s Labor Party government, said that Gaza was “critical for Israel’s security and could never be given up.” The Labor government began building fourteen Jewish communities in Gaza. (Jerusalem Report, July 14, 2003)

The Jewish presence in Gaza
dates back to biblical times:

Gaza has been a part of the Land of Israel since biblical times. The borders of Israel specified in Genesis 15 clearly include Gaza, and it is described in Joshua 15:47 and Judges 1:18 as part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, and in Kings it is included in the areas ruled by King Solomon. The area came under foreign occupation during some periods, but the Jewish king Yochanan, brother of Judah the Maccabee, recaptured Gaza in 145 CE and sent Jews to rebuild the community there.

Throughout the centuries, there was a large Jewish presence in Gaza in fact, it was the largest Jewish community in the country at the time of the Muslim invasion (7th century CE). Medieval Christian visitors to the region mentioned the presence of the Jewish community in Gaza—including Giorgio Gucci of Florence (1384), Bertandon de la Brooquiere (1432), Felix Fabri (1483), and George Sandys (1611). So did Jewish travelers, such as Benjamin of Tudela and Meshullam of Voltera (1481).

The medieval Jewish communities of Gaza included many famous rabbinical authorities, among them Rabbi Yisrael Najara, author of the 16th-century hymn Kah Ribbon Olam, which to this day is sung at Shabbat tables throughout the Jewish world, and the kabbalist Rabbi Avraham Azoulai, author of the famous book Hessed L’Avraham. Writing about the question of whether or not living in Gaza fulfills the biblical requirement [mitzvah] to live in the Land of Israel, the famous sage Rabbi Yaakov Emden, in his book Mor Uketziya, wrote: “Gaza and its environs are absolutely considered part of the Land of Israel, without a doubt. There is no doubt that it is a mitzvah to live there, as in any part of the Land of Israel.”

The Jews of Gaza were forced to leave the area when Napoleon’s army marched through in 1799, but they later returned. The Jewish community in Gaza was destroyed during the British bombardment in 1917, but later it was rebuilt again. When Palestinian Arab threatened to slaughter the Jews of Gaza during the 1929 pogroms, the British ruling authorities forced the Jews to leave. But in 1946, the Jews returned, establishing the town of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip, which lasted until 1948, when Egypt occupied the area.

Rewarding terrorists
is wrong and dangerous:

During the past three years, Palestinian Arab terrorists have carried out tens of thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel, murdering nearly 1,000 Israelis and maiming many more. The terrorists demand, among other things, that Israel withdraw from Gaza and expel the Jewish residents. Terrorists, like all criminals, deserve to be punished for the crimes, not rewarded. For Israel to withdraw from Gaza and expel the Jewish residents would be to reward the terrorists. It would also encourage more terrorism, by demonstrating to the terrorists that additional violence may bring about additional Israeli concessions.

An Israeli withdrawal means
creating a terrorist state in Gaza:

The Palestinian Authority regime currently administers parts of Gaza but does has not have sovereignty, because of the presence of the Israeli Army. The PA does not control the borders, does not control sea access to Gaza, and does not have a full-fledged army. If Israel withdraws from the area, the PA will be able to establish a sovereign state.

Such a state would certainly be a terrorist state, to judge by how the PA has treated terrorists until now. It has not disarmed or outlawed terrorist groups; it has not shut down their bomb factories; it has not closed down the terrorists’ training camps. It has rewarded with terrorists with jobs in the PA police force. In short, the PA has actively collaborated with and sheltered the terrorists. Moreover, the PA itself has sponsored thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel.

The PA has also created an entire culture of glorification of terrorism and anti-Jewish hatred in its official media, schools, summer camps, sermons by PA-appointed clergy, and speeches by PA representatives. PA school textbooks teach that Jews are “evil racists.”

Creating a Palestinian Arab state
in Gaza would not lead to peace:

Establishing a state in Gaza would not satisfy the Palestinian Arabs’ goals. The aim of a Palestinian Arab state would not be to live in peace next to Israel, but to serve as a spring board for terrorism and invasions aimed at annihilating the Jewish State. The PA makes no secret of its goal; the official maps on PA letterhead, in PA schoolbooks and atlases, and even on the patch worn on the uniforms of PA policemen show all of Israel not just the disputed territories labeled “Palestine.”

A Palestinian Arab state
in Gaza would be an
anti-American dictatorship:

The last thing the world needs now is yet another totalitarian, anti-American terrorist state. Yet that is exactly what a Palestinian Arab state in Gaza would be, to judge by the behavior of the PA during the ten years since it was created. The PA is a brutal Muslim dictatorship which tortures dissidents, silences newspaper that deviate from the PA line, and persecutes Christians. The official PA media actively incite hatred against America, and the PA maintains warm relations with the most anti-American regimes in the world, including Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea.

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