Historical Context to the October 7 Massacre

By: Prof. Shlomo Maital

1.   Israel was born on May 15, 1948, preceded by a 33-13 United Nations General Assembly decision in November 1947.  Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors, and fought a bitter war from November 1947 until the armistice in July 1949.  We had 6,000 dead,  1% of our population.  Some of the attacks came from Egypt, through the Gaza strip.

2.  In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel was subject to fedayeen (terrorist) attacks, mainly from the South and Gaza – while absorbing three million immigrants, many from DP camps in Europe, Holocaust survivors.

3.  We have fought four wars,  Six Day War  June 1967;  Yom Kippur War, October 1973;   And First Lebanon War 1982 and Second Lebanon War Summer 2006.   We have had two intifadas (terrorist uprisings, suicide bombings),  1987-93,  and 2000-2005.

4.  We have now had five operations in Gaza, during which rockets were fired on our cities, schools, and towns (Operation Cast Lead, Dec. 2008, including a ground incursion; Operation Pillar of Defense, Nov. 2012; Operation Protective Edge, July-August 2014; Operation Guardian of the Walls, May 2021; and now, Operation Iron Swords, October 2023 – ?.)

    Since Israel’s founding,  more than 28,000 soldiers have been killed.  

    The point here is:  despite offers of a Palestinian State to the Palestinians, the latest on Dec. 23, 2000:

   This, below, is by New York Times columnist David Brooks, published on Oct. 12, 2023:    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/12/opinion/israel-palestinians-gaza-peace.html

   “Throughout this horrible week, my mind has repeatedly flashed back to Dec. 23, 2000. That was the day the Palestinians were offered a path to having their own nation on roughly 95 percent of the land in the West Bank and 100 percent of the land in the Gaza Strip. Under that outline, Israel would also swap some of its own land to compensate the Palestinians in exchange for maintaining 80 percent of its settler presence in the West Bank.

   “The Palestinians would control, in President Bill Clinton’s formulation, “Arab areas” of East Jerusalem. And on the most sensitive religious sites, there would have been divided sovereignty or jurisdiction, with Palestinians controlling the Haram al-Sharif (including the Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques) and Israel controlling the Western Wall and the holy space of which it is a part. There would also be a return of many refugees into the new Palestinian state (without the right of return to Israel itself).

   “They turned it down.  

    “The conclusion is that our ‘neighbors’ do not seek a peace agreement, but the destruction of Israel.  This is stated clearly in their documents. “ 

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    Israel captured the Gaza Strip and Sinai from Egypt in the Six Day War.   The Sinai peninsula was returned to Egypt in the peace agreement signed by Anwar Sadat signed on March 26, 1979, and officially declared in Washington in 1980. 

       Egypt refused to take back the Gaza Strip. It remained under Israeli control.    Why does this matter?   Had Egypt regained control,   none of the Hamas terror attacks would have ensued.  Egypt is a bitter enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the ‘father’ of Hamas, it had a Muslim Brotherhood prime minister who nearly ruined Egypt and deposed him quickly.

  Israel withdrew from Gaza, on August 15, 2005.  We left them fertile fields, hothouses, factories, etc.    Hamas destroyed them all, in bitter enmity.    Hamas gained political control of Gaza from the Fatah/Palestinian Authority in 2006 and in 2007  in a military battle with Fatah destroyed them,  throwing some Fatah members off of a 14 story building.   

      Since that withdrawal,  we have suffered terrorist and rocket attacks on our cities (see above).  

   In the current war, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets on Israeli cities;  We have Iron Dome, the world’s most accurate and advanced interceptors, and they destroy most of those rockets.  But the intention is clear —  kill Israeli citizens.  Except, they do not succeed, though they did kill over 1,300 Israelis in their sneak attack on October 7.

         There are 2.3 million people in Gaza.  Israel does not want or need to provide for their needs, any more than Egypt did and does.  After capturing or killing Hamas leaders and fighters and destroying their “Metro” (network of underground tunnels and weapons factories),  we will withdraw, leaving a civilian government in place.  We will not in future allow them to develop military capability.

          I think Americans should ask themselves:  What if Mexico openly declared war on the US, fired rockets on Houston and Dallas and in a sneak attack, slaughtered women and children, in El Paso,  taking hostages and butchering dead bodies.  Would you leave a single building standing in that country?   After 9/11, what did America do to Afghanistan?  And October 7 – our 9/11 – what are we expected to do, with murderers on our southern border, openly declaring their intention.