By September 12th 2005 Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. By that date every last Israeli settler, farm, building, synagogue and even cemetery plot was uprooted, sometimes forcibly and brought back to within the pre-1967 Israeli borders. Even all military and security installations were dismantled and everything handed over to the Palestinians with no quid pro quo whatsoever.
The theory behind former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "Disengagement Plan" was that Gaza (and much of the territories inhabited primarily by Palestinians) was a no-win cauldron of unrelenting and remitting violence and that by taking unilateral action to extricate itself from there that the Palestinians would then have full, complete and absolute ability to run their own lives without having to look at Israelis -- something that Palestinians had been saying they were pining for. A corollary to this theory was that Palestinian self governance would breed responsibility and the genesis of a civil society. Critics called it "land for peace."
It has been more than seven years since Israel's unilateral withdrawal and it can safely be said that Gaza is still a stew pot of chaos and violence that bubbles-over these days in the form of Iranian-supplied missiles shot at Israeli civilian centers sometimes at the rate of 140 or more a day, as was the case on Tuesday, November 20th and had been the case for months before the current wave of Israeli retaliations.
The peace-loving mullahs in Tehran have been spending their oil profits not on the improvement of living standards for their own people but on supplying tens of thousands of lethal projectiles to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon and in spinning ever-increasing uranium centrifuges all possibly aimed at killing Israeli civilians, hopefully, eventually, in massive numbers. The Iranian leaders also make monetary and military support for Syria's Bashir Assad a top priority. They say you can always tell a lot about someone by who their friends are.
Among the missiles the ayatollahs have been giving Hamas are the new Fajr-5 which has a range of up to 75 kilometers -- enough to possibly reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and a whole bunch of the less sophisticated Grad missiles (of Russian provenance) that can only do about 20 kilometers which is enough to make life miserable for the one million Israelis living in that 20 kilometer radius. To borrow from 1970's Beneath the Planet of the Apes, these are considered to be "holy weapons of peace" by the Iranians and their Hamas proxies.
And what is it that has the Gazans so hot and bothered that they feel compelled to spout off with missiles all the time? They say it's the "occupation" by Israel -- but, Israel completely withdrew from Gaza and Arabs rule Arabs there. By "occupation" Hamas means all of pre-1948 British Mandate Palestine, much of which is comprised by the current State of Israel and her seven million citizens. Hamas would like Israel and all its people to be ethnically cleansed.
For Hamas it is "my way or the cemetery," like their Iranian sponsors, they envision an apocalyptic world where anyone not hewing to their faith will either be forcibly converted or forcibly eliminated. There is no notion of live and let live, rather it is a ghoulish ideology of live and let die. (Apologies to Roger Moore and Paul McCartney). As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, "their targets are our children and they use their own children as human shields." It is a culture that glorifies indiscriminate death at the expense of a better life for their own people.
Meanwhile in the midst of all this Israel supplies food, water, electricity, gas and even medical supplies to the people of Gaza not only on a regular daily basis, but even during the current crisis. Israel sends out tens of thousands of text messages, emails, phone calls and drops thousands of leaflets for Gaza civilians warning them of impeding attacks so as to avoid casualties. By contrast, Israelis have between five and 25 seconds' notice to seek shelter when Hamas launches another shower of missiles on Israeli cities.
During the waning days of World War II, Londoners had to cope with German rockets continually and randomly striking their city. The British, along with their U.S. allies acted with overwhelming and devastating force retaliating on German cities. (Carpet-bombing, anyone?) Israel by comparison is endeavoring with great restraint to make surgical and precision strikes at missile sites and arms depots, which unfortunately are deliberately situated smack dab in the center of residential neighborhoods.
Peace will come to the region when Palestinians have true democracy and a civil society where their obsession is not trying to deny others (i.e. Jews) their rights to live in peace and security, but rather when their number one priority will be working to enhance the quality of life of their own people.