By  Daoud Kuttab
Three years ago the Israeli army initiated a major military offensive against the people of the Gaza Strip with the aim of stopping the shelling from Gaza and the release of one of their soldiers that was held in the strip. 

Over 1,400 Palestinians, many of them women and children, were killed, thousands were injured, and public, private and internationally owned properties were damaged as a result of the attack that came from land, sea and air.

Both publicly stated goals failed in this criminal war against a defenseless population and lightly armed militants. 

Shelling from Gaza has continued intermittently since the war. It slowed down considerably as a result of a unilateral decision by Hamas, and could end immediately if Israel were to deal with the Islamic movement. As to the captured Israeli soldier, the Israelis were forced to do what Hamas offered them from day one, to trade him for imprisoned Palestinians.

Israel and to a lesser extent, Hamas, were accused by renowned UN appointed international jurists of having committed war crimes. 

Following extreme pressure on him and his family the head of the UN commission South African judge Richard Goldstone, later wrote an opinion article changing some of the conclusions of the committee he headed. He never made any official change in the report that was submitted as an official document to the United Nations.

The Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza has continued and has been publicly justified by major world countries even though this siege was and remains totally illegal. No international body has approved the restriction of movement of people and goods into or out of the Gaza strip. 

An international effort to break the siege has resulted in a de facto loosening of this siege. Unfortunately this effort has cost nine Turkish peace activists. Israel's relations with an important NATO member has since collapsed due to Israel's refusal to apologize for killing Turks in international waters.

While the slight easing of the siege (especially in regards to badly needed building materials) has resulted in the beginnings of a rebuilding campaign, much more is needed. The hundreds of millions of dollars pledged at the Sharm al Sheikh conference for the rebuilding of Gaza have slowly trickled into the populated strip but have gone mostly to or through international organizations such as the United Nations Refugee Works Agency.

Whether it has been the result of the Arab Spring (especially in as far as Hamas's Damascus headquarters) or for other reasons, Hamas has slowly experienced discernible change since the breakout of the war. Ruling and governing can do a lot to soften any movement's ideologies. The fear of losing in future elections can do amazing things for softening the sharp edges of any movement.

In this respect, the Palestinian reconciliation efforts have produced some unprecedented changes in the political discourse as well as in the daily actions of the Hamas movement and government. Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal is now proclaiming his movements' change of resistance strategy.

The militant movement is now committed to prioritizing nonviolent resistance in all its activities. This position is translated on the ground in Gaza by the movement refraining from launching missiles towards Israel and in arresting or otherwise preventing any individual or group from doing so. This is explained as necessary for the higher interest of Palestinians in Gaza.

Politically the Hamas movement is slowly removing all the issues that caused it international isolation.

By agreeing to join the PLO Hamas is indirectly recognizing Israel, which the Palestinian Liberation Organisation officially did on the eve of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Internationally, the world community will not be able to justify continued isolation of Hamas even if Israel insists on such an isolation. After all, US and other western leaders have publicly stated their willingness to work with the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists who have won elections or power in Tunis, Libya and Egypt.

Gaza at the end of 2011 is not the same as it was at the end of 2008, both negatively and positively. 

The Arab Spring requires that the current siege and all its effects are once and for all removed so that Palestinians in Gaza can live normally with the ability to move in and out of the strip. Also, Palestinian goods and people from the West Bank should equally have the right to move unfettered to the strip without the illegal and immoral siege restricting them.

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 with the aim of stopping the shelling from Gaza and the release of one of their soldiers that was held in the strip.

Both publicly stated goals failed in this criminal war against a defenseless population and lightly armed militants.

It would be comical if it was not serious, but the author just states a fact and than just denigrates Israel. Is shelling from Gaza not a WAR CRIME? and does Israel not have the right to defend itself against any and all WAR CRIMES or incursions or killings and maiming of its population. So what made the war in GAZA a "criminal war. Was it that the population was defenceless? But the terrorists that shelled Israel were in fact armed with thousands of missiles and not just lightly armed. They possessed anti tank and anti aircraft munitions.

So why does the author condemn an action that was purely defensive in nature and within International law and not even subject to second guessing by the UN while at the same time whitewash WAR CRIMES committed by the rulers of Gaza ergo the population that elected them.

In the final analysis this is a very propagandized  article that in fact has no merits or is realistic.

The siege of Gaza will end if and when the Palestinians stop their war against Israel and stop accumulating Rockers and other projectiles in order to wipe Israel of the map. If they continue shooting these at Israel or kidnap another soldier Ganz has promised a war that will make the 2008 Gaza war seem like a picnick. The choice is the Palestinians.

If the shelling from Gaza is a war crime, then all war is a crime. The people of Gaza are resisting aggression, intimidation and the killing of their people by a far more powerful entity.

Gaza has the right to be free and independent, and many Gazans also have the right to considerable compensation from Israel.

Israel attempted to colonize Gaza, and ever since they failed, Gaza has been punished for Israel's failure.



Within Gaza Strip there are eight official camps with 478,854 refugees. Here is a list of the refugee camps, with the dates on which the refugees arrived. They all were forced there, at gun point, by Jews who wanted Israel to be an exclusively Jewish State. Many of these people were not even living on the Jewish side of the Partition. They all had houses to live in, and places to work. Many also owned farms or businesses. The Jews of Israel stole their assets.

1948, Beach camp (Shati), 76,109

1949, Bureij, 30,059

1948, Deir el-Balah camp, 20,188

1948, Jabalia (Jabaliya), 103,646

1949, Khan Yunis, 60,662

1949, Maghazi, 22,536

1949, Nuseirat, 64,233

1949, Rafah camp, 90,638



Here is a list of Palestinian property that was expropriated by Israel through the use of a law they passed, called  Absentees’ Property Law of 1950.

The following details come from a book called ‘The Birth of Israel’ by Simha Flapan, who from 1954 to 1981 was National Secretary of Israel’s MAPAM party.




This is how the Law played out:

Any Arabs who left their places of residence between Nov ‘47 and Sept ’48, [note, this does not mean they actually crossed any borders], were declared absentees and their property subject to appropriation by the Custodian of Absentees Property.... As a result, 2 million dunams were confiscated...


A detailed account of exactly how ‘abandoned’ Arab property assisted in the absorption of the new immigrants was prepared by Joseph Schechtman... “The amount of this property,” he wrote in 1952, is “very considerable”:


2,990,000 dunams (739,750 arces) of formerly Arab-owned land, including olive and orange groves, vineyards, citrus orchards, and assorted tree gardens, became totally deserted... 2,070,270 dunams were of good quality, 136,530 of medium quality and 751,730 dunams were of poor soil.  In addition, 73,000 dwelling rooms in abandoned Arab houses and 7,800 shops, workshops and storerooms became ownerless in towns and villages.

Bank accounts estimated to total up to 5 million Palestinian pounds and left in Arab and non-Arab banks were frozen by the Israel government. All of this Arab absentee property, movable and immovable, was entrusted to an official “custodian”.


Schechtman went on to detail how the property was utilized:

It is difficult to overestimate the tremendous role this abandoned Arab property has played in the settlement of 100’s of 1000’s of Jewish immigrants who have reached Israel since the proclamation of the state in May 1948.   47 new rural settlements established on the sites of abandoned Arab villages absorbed 25,255 new immigrants...over 1 million dunams leased by the custodian of Jewish settlements and individual farmers for the raising of grain crops.

Large tracts of land belonging to Arab absentees have also been leased to Jewish settlers, old and new, for the raising of vegetables. In the south alone, 15,000 dunams of vineyards and fruit trees have been leased to co-operative settlements; a similar area has been rented...This has saved the Jewish Agency and the government millions of dollars.  While the average cost of establishing an immigrant family in a new settlement was from $7,500 to $9,000 the cost in abandoned Arab villages did not exceed $1,500


Abandoned Arab dwellings in towns have also not remained empty. By the end of July 1948, 170,000 people, notably new immigrants and ex-soldiers, in addition to about 40,000 former tenants...have been housed in premises under the custodian’s control; and 7,000 shops, workshops, and stores were sublet to new arrivals. The existence of these Arab houses – vacant and ready for occupation – has to a large extent, solved the greatest immediate problem which faced the Israeli authorities in the absorption of immigrants.  It also considerably relieved the financial burden of absorption. [the italized details come from Joseph Schechtman’s book, The Arab Refugee Problem (New York, 1952) pp.95-96, 100-101, reprinted in Flapan’s book pp107-8.]




NONE OF THIS PROPERTY WAS ABANDONED. It was all confiscated, and the Arab owners were physically prevented from returning to their land. Nor were they allowed to sell their land, buildings or businesses. It was all stolen.



I have no time or inclination to expand on misleading data that you are providing. I have a very strong aversion to propaganda, and especially to the type that you dissiminate.

Gaza is ruled by a terror organization that has been put in power by the Palestinian population. They are resisting nothing  other than Israel being a Jewish state. NO PALESTINIAN was killed without Israel being provoked by incursions, kidnappings or rockets. For clarification if the terrorists operating out of Gaza stopped., than there would be no casualties on either side.

Gaza could be free if it would throw of the yoke of Hamas and stop accumulating rockets and weapons and use that money towards a better life. All they are importing and/or exporting is death and destruction.

she gave here argument give yours before blaming and if you dont have time to dont waste our time by reading  what you write and "Gaza could be free if it would throw of the yoke of Hamas and stop accumulating rockets and weapons and use that money towards a better life. All they are importing and/or exporting is death and destruction." were you there by any chance or your just assuming ? or you just heard it in the news may be  unless you have a solid thing to talk with dont waste our time

Your repetitive documentation of the plight of "refugees" is rather tiresome, Sussan.  Gaza, an entity largely made up of people who fled Israel when the Jewish state was born, continues to define its population of Arabs as "refugees" and maintains "camps" (small, often dilapidated, towns).  The reasons for this are threefold: 1) By keeping people in such condition,  it maintains the (false) propaganda effect against the state of Israel (one which you consistently promote).  2) Continuous funding is received through UNHRA.  This is akin to several generations of social welfare, so well practiced in the West. By the very nature of this funding, it becomes an impediment to growth, development and creativity and encourages lack of achievement. 3)  UNHRA, itself, is a self-perpetuating organization which creates make-work jobs for many westerners and, especially, its Arab counterparts.  The USA has now acted to cease funding UNHRA after 62 years and, with a Republican administration, it will dry up completely.  Canada and the EU states are sure to follow.  The Arabs who remain in these camps, learning no doable way of making a living, will become utterly desperate.  The fault lies with UNHRA and socalled liberals like yourself who prefer that these people remain bereft of achievement.  The same goes for people of Palestinian origin who remain in refugee camps in Lebanon.  The state of Lebanon continues to deny them citizenship.  They prefer to sacrifice these people for the money received and the power of continuous propaganda against the state of Israel.  You are part of this problem, Sussan.  Your intent is not to help but to continue to demonize Israel.  There is nothing in your posts to even suggest that your interests are peaceful.  The only solution for you is to see the state of Israel and its Jewish citizens decimated.  It's never going to happen.  You're not unlike Hamas, leader of the Arabs of Gaza, which, in its charter, makes it clear that the decimation of the Jewish entity is a priority.

As to the refugees themselves,there never would have been any had the Arab nations not declared war on the infant state of Israel.  Those Arabs who did not flee became fullfledged Israeli citizens.  Most of those who did flee did did so at the behest of the five invading Arab nations or fled out of fear that the Jews would do to them what Arabs would have done to them (mutilation, torture, rape and death) had the Arab nations won the Jewish War of Independence. 

One more fact, Sussan:  Approximately 900,000 Jews were sent packing from their homes in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, and all other Muslim dominated nations of the Mideast and North Africa.  They were sent packing in spite of their model citizenship and benefit to their respective nations.  They were sent packing from their longtime homes with nothing, not one iota of property.  Driven out, almost all went to Israel.  It took about ten years to settle them.  It was very hard on them and their children.  As Golda Meir said, "We were almost too successful."  She meant that the Jewish people cared more for the good of their own that the propaganda purposes accrued due to a huge number of refugees.  There was no "UNHRA" for them.  In conclusion, when the Arab people begin to actually care about their own people instead of dismissing, using and despising them, then some form of peaceful conduct may actually come about to the Mideastern nations.  As one very familiar with the Mideast (unlike you), including the mentality of Arabs and Islamists, I can tell you that this is unlikely to occur.  In the meantime, it is all too easy for Arabs and westerners like you to place the blame on Jews and Israel.  In no way do I see you as a "peacemaker" but simply another poster who uses this forum to deny Arab responsibility while blaming Israel.

Have a look at the population figures for Aliyah. The single biggest figure for any country is the USSR, next biggest are Romania, and Morocco. There is no evidence that Jews were forced to leave these countries, and in any case, there is abundant evidence that Jews flocked to Israel because of the opportunities promised by Israel; opportunities they could never have hoped for within their own countries.


I have a Russian friend from those times, and she and her family were very active in agitating for an end to the communist State. Eventually it became too dangerous for them to stay in the Soviet Union. They were genuine refugees, as opposed to most of the 1 million Jews who did move to Israel from the USSR, but Israel refused them permission to live in Israel, and my friend was quite shocked by the intolerance and racial prejudice displayed by Israel towards her family. Her husband was a doctor, and all the children were equally talented.

If Israel wants to be accepted as an equal in this world, it will have to start behaving in a responsible manner, and show equal respect for all. Otherwise, there will be increasing criticism of Israel.

As usual, Sussan, when the facts do not fit your perverted ideology, you deny them and, as well, alter the subject.  You have become very adept at not acknowledging nor dealing with the facts, in this case, the massive number of refugees thrown out of their Arab homelands just after the Israeli War of Independence.  Interestingly, Sussan, you appear to have so much sympathy for the incessant plight of Arab refugees and none for the Jewish ones.  It is pretty evident to me that your refusal to acknowledge the suffering of these Jewish refugees is just part of your obvious distaste for the nation of Israel and...the Jewish people.  This is very obvious, Sussan, to any consistent Reader of your posts.  In what way to you identify yourself as a "peacemaker"?  It appears to me (and to others) that you simply make use of this forum to demonize both the state of Israel and the Jewish people.  In other words, you cheapen mepeace to the point of strangulation.  Perhaps there are other forums where your wizened evil could be put to more functional use, say Maan or Haaretz.  Why not, Sussan, since here you have been outed, even by a non-Jew non-Israeli like myself.

Not surprised.  You refuse to even acknowledge much less deal with any of the points I and others have made.

AH the BBC that has been cited for its slanted Journalism in the UK itself. Hevron 1929 is omitted from this feel good piece. The invasion by 6 Arab armies is only partially acknowledged. The promise to two peoples in Belfour is distorted to suit the Arab narrative. The fact is that 78% of Palestine were given toi the Arabs to be ruled by a Saudi Hashemite King with no roots in Palestine and who now controls 70% of Palestinians in Jordan. Let us not forget that the NOBLE British made Trans Jordan Judenrein as far back as 1922.

But Sussan. lets not quibble about the truth. You have no use for it anyways and what matters is the virulent propaganda that you spin and spew. If Allah himself came down to earth and told you the truth ,you would deny it if it was favourable top the Jews or Israel.

You do have a fertile imagination, though and a penchant for exaggeration.

but wait where was these people before the state of israel was born and what was there  on the land before state of israel  one more silly quastion  and i dont want to compare or any thing  since we live here in the holly land and we're discussing the land of palestine  well how many arabs died  since the state of israel was born and we are talking thousends  and how many jews died  am saying they havnt exceeded  more than  hundreds  oh what am i doing ! these are humans you cant think of them as numbers  dont blame israel please and your talking about the war of the six days and the stupid five arab nation who came to attack poor israel my friend  its strange that  you never heard the word "mako awamer " its an iraqi word that the solders used to say when people in jerusalem  back at the time of the six days used to ask them to fight back at the attacks of jewish gangs  the word mean "we do not have orders" these are words from people wh were alive back then and i heard it from these people my self you see i dont trust much of what comes in the books nor the media but a face to face always  makes you know if the person infront of you is a lier or not  do not write unless your one hundred  percent sure  of what you  know if its true or not  in the war of six day the rebles of the islamic brotherhood used to free the land and give it to the arab nations  which gave it  back to the israeli army  also words from people who were alive back then too yes god bless the six days war  israel has strugled so much in it  it had to pay alot of mony to the arabs .

If the shelling from Gaza is a war crime, then all war is a crime. The people of Gaza are resisting aggression, intimidation and the killing of their people by a far more powerful entity.

I would agree in principle, all war is a crime. We know this as members of a society, and yet we see war around us on every continent of the world , except North America and Australia. War is a bad end to failed diplomacy, negotiation , or discussion. War is often about one side taking the resources of another.

Sussan, how can you influence the Palestinians to be more peaceful and not bomb Israelis . Perhaps I am naive, but I think if we see calm , and a Palestinian population that is focused on life, peace, prosperity , and the health and well being of its children , then and only then, will we see a reasonable solution to this situation.



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