I am no fan of President Trump and I am ready to blame him for a lot of things — but not for the terrible bloodshed in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Yes, the confrontation between Palestinians and Israeli security forces occurred at the same time as the unveiling of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. And, yes, the embassy’s relocation could have been handled more smoothly and diplomatically. But it doesn’t mean that, if the embassy had stayed in Tel Aviv, peace and tranquility would have prevailed in Gaza.
Hamas , the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, would not accept any U.S. Embassy anywhere in Israel, because it doesn’t accept the state of Israel. Its charter says that “Palestine is a land that was seized by a racist, anti-human and colonial Zionist project” and vows that “the resistance . . . shall continue until liberation is accomplished.”
The nature of that resistance has changed over the years. From 1948 to 1973, Arab armies tried to destroy Israel through conventional military operations. That failed. During the 1970s, the Palestine Liberation Organization switched to terrorism. That too failed. Then, in 1987, came the First Intifada — Palestinian youths hurling rocks and molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. That worked better, because the conscience of most Israelis was rightly pricked by pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting demonstrators. Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to recognize each other, but the reconciliation stalled when Yasser Arafat gave his go-ahead to the Second Intifada in 2000. This was more violent: suicide bombers rather than rock-throwers. But it too failed.
By the end of the Second Intifada in 2005, most Israelis were ready to wall themselves off from the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time, pulled Israeli settlements out of Gaza. But in 2007, Hamas, after having won legislative elections, seized control of Gaza. So now Israel had to deal with a terrorist state located about 40 miles from Tel Aviv (roughly the distance between Baltimore and Washington). One of Hamas’s first acts was a cross-border attack to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
To protect itself, Israel established tight security controls around Gaza, but Hamas used tunnels to smuggle in missiles and other weapons from Egypt. Hamas repeatedly rocketed Israel, leading Israel to stage three major military operations — in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014