On December 27, 2008, the Israeli army attacked the Gaza Strip. 90 warplanes dropped over 100 tons of explosives over about 100 different targets. Within minutes, 225 people were killed and over 700 injured. Israel wanted to make it impossible for the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to fire rockets into
Israel. Both the rocket bearings and those that fired were to be eliminated. After 22 days of war, Israel declared an end to the attack and decided on a unilateral ceasefire.
- What are the characteristics of the Gaza Strip?
- What organization is Hamas and why does it govern Gaza?
- What was the background to the Israeli attack on Gaza?
- Were war crimes committed during the war?
1.5 million people live on the Gaza Strip, which with its 360 km2 is smaller than Oslo municipality in extent. The area is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and the Israeli bombing caused major damage. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, 412 of whom were children. 5,300 Palestinians were injured – over 1,800 of them children.
Israel lost 13 civilians during the military operation, including 10 soldiers in Gaza. Within a few days, public buildings in Gaza were systematically bombed, including the parliament building, the presidential residence, the ministries, the television building, schools, mosques, hospitals, police stations and prisons. During the military attack, more than 4,000 homes were destroyed and tens of thousands became homeless. After the war, a third of the population is without water, 80% without electricity.
The destruction of Hamas’ rockets was obviously not commensurate with the retaliation. Several teams have demanded an investigation into whether Israeli leaders during the military operation had committed war crimes.
3: History of Gaza
In the summer of 1948, the population of Gaza increased from 60,000 to 300,000 people. The increase was due to Palestinian civilians fleeing the war between Israel and the country’s Arab neighbors. The Palestinians fled to avoid hostilities, but also because Israel wanted a land corridor in the south without Palestinians, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris.
Palestinian refugees were therefore driven south until they came to Gaza, which was controlled by Egyptian troops. Following the ceasefire between Israel and neighboring states in 1949, the borders between Israel and neighboring countries remained closed to Palestinian refugees, and they have therefore been in forced exile since the 1948 escape.
Egypt controlled Gaza for 18 years. But in 1967, Israel went into military action and occupied both Gaza and the West Bank. Thus, the entire area that the UN had allocated to Jews and Palestinians in the 1947 partition plan came under Israeli control. Israel’s goal of occupation was not necessarily to secure more land for Israel. It was just as much to prevent armed Palestinian resistance.
But as the occupation dragged on, Jewish settlers began to build their own colonies in occupied territory, both in Gaza and in the West Bank , in violation of international law .
It was not until 1994 that the Palestinians gained partial autonomy in the occupied territories. The background was the negotiations known as the Oslo process where Israel recognized the PLO and the PLO recognized Israel. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was initially a joint organization of the Palestinian resistance groups established outside historic Palestine in the 1960s, but in practice one party, Fatah, dominates the PLO .
Therefore, later in this article, the PLO and Fatah are mentioned as one; Fatah / PLO. As we shall see, it was a problem on the Palestinian side that Palestinian Islamic resistance groups were not part of the PLO. The Islamic groups believed that the PLO did not have the authority to enter into agreements with Israel on their behalf.
In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza and evacuated the Jewish settlements there. The following year, Palestinian elections were held . In this election, the Islamic resistance movement Hamas won over Fatah (see map). The victory sparked a crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because Hamas, unlike Fatah, did not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
According to picktrue, Israel views Hamas as a terrorist, and the attack on Gaza on December 27, 2008 was intended to weaken, if not destroy, Hamas. But Hamas is more than a military resistance movement. Hamas is just as much a social and political mass movement , which is connected to the history of the movement in Gaza.
4: Hamas as social Islamism
It was the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 that created the basis for what was to become Hamas. Hamas’ strength in Gaza is closely linked to the lack of development of national Palestinian institutions after the occupation. After the occupation, Israel succeeded to a large extent in driving the Palestinian resistance movement Fatah / PLO out of the occupied territories.
At the same time, Palestinian national symbols were suppressed, and all attempts to build a Palestinian nation were banned. The Palestinians also did not have access to Israeli welfare services. In the void between the lack of Israeli welfare services and the lack of development of Palestinian national institutions , non-governmental organizations , often called NGOs (non-governmental organizations), flourished .
Israel viewed the development of Islamic welfare organizations positively since this could replace the responsibility of the occupying power for the Palestinian civilian sector, while the Islamists were not Fatah / PLO.
This is how social Islamism was created in Palestine. The Great Muslim Movement The Muslim Brotherhood was established in Gaza in 1967, and developed what was called al-mujamma , Muslim centers with various welfare services. Based on various mosques, kindergartens and homes for orphans were established, health clinics were built with offers of free medical care and cheap medicine, and sports and scout activities for young people were offered to the occupied population.
The fraternity prioritises education and upbringing, ie “strengthening the character and morals of Muslims”. For 20 years, they saw the liberation of Palestine as a task that was too big for them. But in 1987 this changed when the first major Palestinian uprising, the intifada , broke out (the second intifada came in 2000).
5: Reasons for Hamas’ strong position in Gaza
The Muslim Brotherhood became Hamas in the Palestinian territories in December 1987. With a popular uprising, the Intifada, the many Muslim Brotherhood could no longer stand on the sidelines and only watch the Palestinian resistance struggle. But they did not feel at home in Fatah / PLO’s secular roots, and that is how Hamas was formed. In Hamas , the fraternity’s social Islamism and Palestinian national resistance fused .
Hamas received great support, especially in the refugee camps in Gaza. Two thirds of the population in Gaza are refugees and half a million people live in refugee camps. Sixty years after the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, the refugees’ goal of return or compensation seemed more distant than ever.
At the same time, the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country” (Article 13), and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property” (Article 17) . UN Resolution 194 further gave refugees the right to return or receive compensation.
The underlying principle of the Oslo process, on the other hand, was “land for peace” – the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. When the Fatah / PLO recognized Israel, this was interpreted as a recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and thus a renunciation of the refugees’ right to return.
But Hamas did not recognize Israel, nor the Oslo process. Hamas’ leaders in Gaza – most of whom grew up in refugee camps themselves – often referred to UN Resolution 194 in their criticism of the Oslo Accords. The widespread support of the many refugees in Gaza is an important factor in understanding why Hamas defeated Fatah / PLO in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections.