Thursday, October 12, 2023

Gaza is Not an "Open Air Prison"

It has become popular to declare that Gaza is an "open air prison," and then to blame Israel for allegedly oppressing Gaza's Arabs. A brief history lesson will clarify the reality about Gaza. In Who Are the Invaders, and Who are the Invaded? An Analysis of Inversions of Truth, I provided historical background about Palestine in general:

Palestine is a geographic term, much like the term Midwest is used to describe the portion of the United States that includes Ohio, Michigan, and a few other states. In the early 20th century, the geographic term Palestine was used to describe a territory including what is now known as Israel, Gaza, the so-called West Bank (the areas properly called by their historic names Judea and Samaria), and Jordan; after World War I, the League of Nations approved a Mandate granting control of Palestine to Great Britain with the express understanding that the territory would be a homeland for the Jewish people. Great Britain sliced off the eastern 80% of the Palestine Mandate to create Transjordan (which later became the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). After the demise of the League of Nations and after World War II, the United Nations proposed that the remaining 20% of the Palestine Mandate be divided into a Jewish state and a second Arab state (in addition to Jordan). The Jewish leadership in Palestine accepted the UN's proposal--but the Arab leadership in Palestine rejected the UN's proposal and joined forces with armies from the surrounding Arab nations in what they expected to be a war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish State--but Israel won the war, and ended up controlling less than 20% of the original Palestine Mandate, with most of the remaining territory under Jordanian control (Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, which has never been historically part of Egypt). 
From 1948-1967, Egypt occupied Gaza. During that period, Arab/Muslim terrorist groups used Gaza as a staging ground to launch terrorist attacks against Israel. Egypt made no serious effort to create an independent Palestinian Arab state in Gaza, nor did Egypt take any meaningful steps to improve the lives of Gaza's residents. In the article cited above, I discussed the founding of the PLO:

The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) was founded in Cairo, Egypt in 1964, with funding and support provided by the Soviet Union. What exactly was the PLO founded to "liberate"? In 1964, Egypt controlled Gaza, while Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria plus the eastern portion of Jerusalem. If the PLO had been truly interested in creating a Palestinian national state in Gaza plus the West Bank then why was the PLO conducting terrorist attacks against Israel, a nation that had no control over the areas that the PLO supposedly wanted to "liberate"? Of course, the reality is that the Soviet Union helped create the PLO to destabilize Israel and thus increase the Soviet Union's influence and power in the region. This was all about oil and about expanding Communism's reach, and had nothing to do with helping "Palestinians" or creating a "Palestinian" nation. That is why the PLO and other Arab/Islamic terrorist groups are still waging war against Israel decades after Israel gave up control of Gaza and of portions of the so-called West Bank: the goal is not creating a "Palestinian" state but rather destroying the Jewish State. The PLO has not even attempted to create a functioning government in Gaza, because the PLO was not created to govern, does not know how to govern, and has no interest in governing.

In May 1967, Egyptian dictator Gamal Adbel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping--by definition, an act of war--and he massed his armed forces on Israel's border. Faced with the daunting prospect of a three-front war versus Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, Israel launched a preemptive strike that decimated Egypt's air force. The Six Day War ensued, after which Israel controlled Sinai, Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights. 

The territories other than Gaza are not relevant to this article. Israel administered--but did not annex--Gaza from 1967 until the 1993 Oslo Accords, after which Israel withdrew her military forces from approximately 80% of Gaza. From 1967 to 1988, infant mortality in Gaza declined from more than 120 per 1000 live births to less than 30 per 1000 live births, and the percentage of children born in hospitals soared from 10 percent to 80 percent. Measles, diphtheria, and polio were almost completely wiped out in Gaza. During the same time period, the Gross National Product per capita in Gaza increased from $280 to more than $1480. Instead of partnering with Israel to continue this progress that took place when Israel administered Gaza, the PLO and other terrorist groups killed Jews. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew the rest of her military forces from Gaza, compelled more than 8000 Jewish settlers in Gaza to vacate their homes, and even dug up all of the Jewish dead buried in Gaza so that they could be reburied in Israel. The little section of Gaza inhabited by Jews had bloomed and thrived--much like the Jewish people made the rest of the Land of Israel bloom and thrive--but as soon as the Jews left Gaza the Arabs looted and destroyed anything built by the Jews. 

In the article cited above, I demonstrated how Gaza's demographic statistics refute the vile accusation that Israel is committing genocide against Arabs:

Israel has never expressed or displayed an intent to destroy any group of people. In fact, the Arab population west of the Jordan River has increased tremendously since Israel's founding in 1948, and the standard of living for Arabs in Israel is higher than the standard of living for Arabs in other countries in the region, so accusations of Israel's alleged genocide are refuted by publicly available data. The 2014 book Industry of Lies cites various official UN and CIA demographic reports setting the record straight. To cite just a few examples from the book, in 1967 the life expectancy for a Palestinian Arab in the West Bank and Gaza was just 49 years. By 1975 (i.e., after those territories had been under Israeli administration for eight years), Palestinian Arab life expectancy rose to 56 years, and by 1984 it had risen to 66 years. Since 1984, Palestinian Arab life expectancy in those territories has climbed to 75 years, which is not only higher than the global average life expectancy but it is higher than the life expectancy in many Arab countries and even some European countries. In addition, Israeli Arabs have the highest life expectancy in the Mideast.

Further, another measure of genocide is infant mortality, which has been steadily and dramatically improving since 1967 in areas under Israeli administration. In addition, the combination of high birth rates and low death rates among Palestinian Arabs in Gaza put that territory near the top of the world in population growth

Remember, by definition genocide refers to an intentional policy to destroy a group of people. The definition is clear, and the data clearly shows that there is no genocide being committed by Israel. 

Here are some other data points to consider: under Jordanian occupation, only four out of 708 Arab towns and villages in the administered territories had modern water supply systems and running water, but just five years after Israel gained control of those areas the fresh water sources grew by 50 percent and has continued to grow. By 2004, 641 Arab communities in those territories—accounting for 96 percent of the population—had running water. Israel accomplished this infrastructure development for Arab communities despite the reckless PLO and Hamas mismanagement of those communities after Israel handed over some of those areas to the PLO. "One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs," declared Scientific American.

It is worth noting that the Jewish communities in the Arab/Muslim world--communities which in many instances predate the birth of Islam--have all but vanished due to massacres and expulsions inflicted on those communities by Arab/Muslim countries after the creation of the modern State of Israel. There is indeed apartheid and genocide in the Middle East, but those evils are not being committed by Israel.

Recent media accounts accuse Israel of bombing refugee camps in Gaza, but few if any media members question why there are still refugee camps in Gaza. Why did Egypt not build homes for Gaza's Arabs during the 19 years that Egypt controlled Gaza? Why did neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas build homes for Gaza's Arabs during the past three decades? The answer is obvious: the refugee camps are useful tactically as human shields and strategically as propaganda weapons against Israel. In every other part of the world where there have been wars and border disputes any resulting refugee situation is resolved by resettling the refugees into new homes. Only the Palestinian Arabs have been consigned to live in refugee camps for decades--and this is the fault of their Arab and Muslim brothers, not Israel! The Palestinian Arabs could have been resettled in homes in Gaza, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim world, but solving the refugee crisis would mean getting rid of a major excuse for attacking Israel, and that does not suit the agenda of the rulers of the Arab/Muslim world.

As many media outlets are kicking into anti-Israel propaganda overdrive to draw attention away from Hamas' barbarism, Jake Wallis Simons debunked the myth that Israel is operating an "open air prison" in Gaza:  

Firstly, Israel is unique in the emphasis it places on warning civilians to evacuate before an attack. Gazan civilians do have places to go, such as schools, which aren't targeted. Thousands have taken refuge there in recent days, as my friend in Gaza told me.

Secondly, let's talk about the fact that Israel secures its border with Gaza, and always has. The reason for this is security. We don't need to imagine what would happen if Israel had allowed the border to be open over the past 17 years: We saw it in gruesome reality over the weekend, with children beheaded, the elderly taken as hostages, and senseless violence in peaceful communities. What should Israel do, allow its civilians to be butchered just to avoid liberal Westerners accusing it of creating an "open-air prison"?

This is an allegation that is designed to undermine Israel's efforts to protect its people, the soft front of the Jihadi movement, perpetrated by useful idiots.

Everyone is criticizing Israel for sealing the border with Gaza and not sending in fuel and supplies for the duration of the war. But Gaza has TWO borders, the other with Egypt. Why doesn't Egypt open its border to refugees and offer humanitarian support, as Arab countries did during the Syrian civil war?

The FT reported that Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, said yesterday that "national security is my first responsibility and under no circumstances will there be any complacency or negligence." In an apparent reference to talk of resettling Gazans in Egypt, he added: "We will not allow the Palestinian cause to be resolved at the expense of other parties."

So Israel must be responsible for feeding, watering, sustaining and enabling its jihadi enemies even while trying to destroy them, while Egypt can turn its back and avoid international condemnation?

The false notion that Israel is running an "open air prison" in Gaza is predicated on the equally false notion that Israel is an occupying force in Gaza even though Israel withdrew her military forces from Gaza in 2005. Gary Willig explains that occupation has a specific legal definition, and that definition clearly is inapplicable regarding Israel's relationship to Gaza:

What is the actual definition of an occupation? The 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague Regulations) are the primary source for the definition of occupation under international law. Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations states that "territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised."

"Actually placed under the authority of the hostile army." "Where such authority has been established and can be exercised."

These conditions are not met in Gaza and have not been met in any fashion since 2005. With zero soldiers, the IDF has no authority whatsoever in Gaza and can exercise none. Despite the claims of the UN, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, a blockade and an occupation are two very different things under real human rights law. While the word "occupation" occurs 46 times in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which is often used as the basis for accusations of Israeli violations of human rights or international law, the word "blockade" never appears at all in any of the four conventions approved on August 12, 1949.

The Israeli occupation of Gaza from 2005 until today would be the first and only occupation in world history to have no boots on the ground, to have the entire territory supposedly under occupation under the complete control of an entity hostile to the occupying power rather than the occupying power. It would be the first occupation in history in which the occupying power lacks even the basic ability to arrest people for any crimes.

In short, they have changed the very definition of the word "occupation" in order to find Israel guilty.

This is a common tactic of Israel’s critics. They accuse Israel of "genocide" when the Palestinian Arab population has grown by leaps and bounds and while the IDF has taken unprecedented steps to protect the lives of civilians while combating terrorist organizations with actual genocidal intent. It would be the first genocide in history where the population being subjected to genocide grew instead of shrinking.

They redefine the word genocide to find Israel guilty, the facts be damned.

The people who call Gaza an "open air prison" often then accuse Israel of being an "apartheid state." In The Truth About Apartheid States, Genocide, and the Sheikh Jarrah Court Case I discussed apartheid and genocide at length, but in light of the unfortunately inevitable propaganda backlash against Israel's justified and necessary military response to Hamas' surprise attack against Israel and the ensuing crimes against humanity committed by Hamas on Israeli soil it is important to repeat that analysis:

The terms apartheid and genocide have specific meanings. It is not difficult to determine if those terms are being used accurately and appropriately.

Apartheid describes a system of legislation in South Africa that forced non-white South Africans to live in separate areas and use separate public facilities. Apartheid laws applied a host of restrictions, including forbidding non-white South Africans from marrying white people, and not permitting non-white South Africans to participate in the national government.

No Israeli citizens are subjected to separate, unequal treatment under the law. There are not separate public facilities that certain ethnic groups are required (or forbidden) to use. Any Israeli citizen can vote in elections and serve in the government; indeed, Israel's government includes Arab members who oppose Israel's existence. 

Anyone who is concerned about post-South Africa examples of "apartheid states" should carefully research, among others, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Can anyone vote and run for office in those countries? Can anyone become a full-fledged citizen of those countries? Are the rights of women and minorities respected in those countries? If you truly care about "apartheid states" and if you are truly committed to fighting racism and oppression, then you either know the answers to those questions, or you will find out the answers and then base your actions on a foundation of knowledge, not propaganda.

The United Nations Genocide Convention, formed in 1948 in direct response to the Nazi genocide of six million Jews during the Holocaust, defined genocide as consisting of two main elements:

  1. A mental element: the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such"; and
  2. A physical element, which includes the following five acts, enumerated exhaustively:
    • Killing members of the group
    • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
    • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
    • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
    • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

The intent is the most difficult element to determine. To constitute genocide, there must be a proven intent on the part of perpetrators to physically destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Cultural destruction does not suffice, nor does an intention to simply disperse a group. It is this special intent, or dolus specialis, that makes the crime of genocide so unique. In addition, case law has associated intent with the existence of a State or organizational plan or policy, even if the definition of genocide in international law does not include that element.

As demonstrated above, Israel is not an "apartheid state," is not an occupying power in Gaza, and is not committing genocide. Further, Gaza is not an "open air prison." It is a breeding ground for radical Muslims who openly state their goal to not just destroy Israel but to kill Jews around the world. If Israel has a shred of common sense and a desire to survive as a nation, she will not end this war until Hamas is destroyed and Gaza is no longer in position to threaten Israel ever again. How Israel should accomplish this important goal will be the subject of my next article.


  1. again. I captured all this research in my novels --- Tales from the East by Ivanhoe, Middle Eastern Annals by Ivanhoe. These represent the western perspective. I also tried to understand Islam since it is the last of the "great" religions but the more I researched into it I was disappointed.

  2. William: Islam's history of bloodshed and extremism is disappointing. Few people do the research, and far too many rely on biased narratives. Not all individual Muslims are bad, but the way that Islamic teachings are interpreted and acted upon by a large number of people, governments, and terrorist groups is a threat to Western civilization. It may not be "politically correct" to say this, but it is true.

  3. Thank your a quick history lesson with definitions. Amazing how much more Arabs thrive under Israeli rule. It's too bad Israel gave up Gaza 30 years ago. But, I'm also thinking Israel needs to take back Gaza completely now. The weirdest thing about all of this is people thinking Israel needs to help its enemies. But, of course people who are closed-minded about the situation will not say nor think anything pro-Israel.

    It seems like the U.S. is helping Israel more, but no countries are sending them actual troops from what I've heard. The U.S. says Iran is not involved with the recent Hamas attack. This seems unbelievable. Regardless, we know Iran has supported Hamas for awhile now.

  4. Anonymous:

    You're welcome! The notion that Israel should be providing supplies to her enemies is beyond baffling. Did FDR and Churchill provide supplies to Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan? This just demonstrates how wacky a person's thinking becomes when he stubbornly adheres to antisemitic doctrines. If a person is going to hate Jews and Israel no matter what then he is going to say absurd and offensive things. Prime example: BLM endorses Hamas beheading and killing Jewish babies. BLM has been antisemitic from the start and they are unlikely to change their beliefs, so they say absurd and offensive things.

  5. Right, who would think a nation would support their attackers? That's extreme nonsense. I hope BLM continues to get exposed. Weird so many people are anti-Israel. The people of Gaza have had plenty of time to establish a functioning government. I suspect the U.S. involvement with Israel, even if not as good or involved as it should, makes neighboring Arab countries think twice to helping Hamas beat Israel. Otherwise, many Arab countries would offer support to Hamas probably.

  6. Anonymous:

    It is weird that so many people are anti-Israel, but this is just a continuation of antisemitism, which has been around for a long time. For a brief time after the Holocaust it was less fashionable to be openly antisemitic, so antisemites would claim that they were anti-Zionist and not antisemitic. Now, it seems that it is acceptable to openly hate both Jews and Israel.


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