The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion’s share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land. Israel’s settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison. Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of s

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Israel does not have the right to exist. States have the right to exist at the will of its people. Israel removed the original people of Palestine changed the name to Israel and without the consent of those people (no referendum allowed) declared a state for Jews when Palestine was only 30 % Jewish and 90% of them were not even indigenous to Palestine. Israelis ran off or killed 2/3rds of the non Jewish population and have refused to allow them their Internationally recognized right as refugees…(and that includes 80% of the people of Gaza) to return home to their land and the 550 villages Israel destroyed. Palestine was wiped off the map. UN Resolution 181 partitioned Palestine designated 55 % of ancient Palestine for a Jewish state gave 45 % for the Palestinian State. But Israel proceeded to take by force all of the lands of ancient Palestine including land that belongs to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.The West Bank which should be part of the Palestinian State has 450.000 illegal settlers on the best of Palestine’s confiscated agricultural lands. After Gaza’s illegal settlers were withdrawn most of Gaza’s population has been rendered dependent on aid because Israel has deliberately and methodically wiped out most of Gaza’s industries and bulldozed agricultural lands including the entire the citrus industry. Israel’s iron grip keeps the entire population, prisoners in their own home. The past 2 years Israel has cut off essential goods, including food, milk, medical supplies and essential materials to produce goods to sell. 750,00 people are dependent on UN aid and due to the blockade UN warehouses are now empty of the food necessary to feed them. Israel has not allowed Gazans to come or go across Israel or Egypt’s borders to go abroad to universities, visit relatives,or get emergency medical care. 250 people have died because they couldn’t get medical care now unavailable in Gaza. Chemotherapy, Dialysis equipment and insulin are a list of things Israel does not allow into Gaza. Israel bombed the state of the art airport built with International funds so they can’t leave by air. Gaza’s seaport has not been used since 1967 which is the only way out of Gaza that does not require one go through another country’s border. 5 freegaza.org boats got in to Gaza since August 2008, the 6th boat the Dignity with American Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and other Internationals was rammed and damaged by Israel navy boats as it tried to bring 3.5 tons of medical supplies for Gaza’s hospitals. It was sent back and had to SOS Lebanon where it is now with a month worth of damage to repair. You readers who in your ignorance say Hamas members are terrorists rather than Israel consider: Hamas doesn’t bulldoze Israeli homes, starve Jewish children, has only one Israeli soldier in custody while Israel has 11,000 men women and children in Israeli prisons’ most imprisoned without judicial review..Consider Israel made 80% of the people of Gaza refugees and has rendered Gaza a prison where their jailors have decided to starve the inmates; one million who are children. Now Israel is bombing the prison because a tiny group of militants have protested the unbearable conditions they and their families and neighbors live under by making crude rockets to lob into the lands they once owned and farmed.