Israel was created in 1948, and immediately attacked by all the Arabs. Some Arabs, not many, were living in Palestine at the time. Some heeded their leaders’ advice and fled the area, only to become refugees. Those that stayed became Israeli citizens and make up 20% of the population of Israel. The Gaza Strip stretches for about 22 miles and is only 8 miles wide. The Egyptians attacked Israel in 1948 and went into the Negev and by December Israel had driven them out, except for the Strip. That's how it came to be.
After the war Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and its more than 200,000 inhabitants but refused to let them into Egypt. Not only that, but Egypt wouldn’t allow them to move to any other country.
In June of 1949, Israel offered to accept the refugees if Egypt agreed to give up Gaza, but Cairo refused. Egypt’s handling of the Palestinians was so bad that Saudi Arabian radio said that Nasser’s regime in Gaza was like Hitler’s rule in occupied Europe in WWII.
In 1952 UNWRA was set up with a fund of $200 million dollars to provide homes and jobs for these refugees, but it wasn’t used at all.
In 1956, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran and Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. Nasser was fighting against Israel. He said his hatred of Israel was very strong and that there was no sense in talking about peace with Israel. 17 maritime powers said at the UN that Israel had a right to transit the Strait. The closure of the Strait of Tiran was the casus belli in 1967.
We had a war that started June 5, 1967 with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and poised and ready to also attack were the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. Israel came into control of the Gaza Strip by winning the war in six miraculous days. The Gaza Strip was originally in Egypt’s hands . At the end of this 1967 Six-Day War, it fell to Israel because Egyptian forces were ready to launch attacks from Gaza into Israel. We kept sovereignty over the area because the Arab leaders rejected Israel’s offers to return conquered territories in exchange for peace. Every Arab state had rejected UN resolutions 242 and 338. They had called for peace negotiations and the establishment of recognized borders for all states in the region.
The 1967 census found 352,000 people living in the Gaza Strip of whom 172,520 were Arab refugees.
Ralph Garroway, former director of UNRWA, said in 1958 that the Arabs don’t want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it like an open sore like a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.
Israel kept control of the Gaza Strip and ceded all of the Sinai peninsula in its peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 because Anwar es-Sadat didn’t want to rule over more than one million Palestinians in the Strip anymore.
Israel provided economic assistance. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were moved from camps to new homes. This caused protests from Egypt, who had done nothing for the refugees when it controlled the area. Arabs were given freedom of movement. They were allowed to travel to and from Jordan. Israel was treating them humanely. That was bad for aspiring terrorists who were not willing to accept Israel’s presence.
By 1994, Yassir Arafat rose to power after the Oslo Accords. The Gaza Strip was the center for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. In 1995 Israel built a fence around the whole Strip, with guarded crossing-points. This stopped terror attacks.
Arafat died in 2004 which gave rise to Hamas’s leadership in the Strip. Rocket attacks against Israel rained from Gaza, sometimes 80 per day, hitting civilian sites in Israeli communities in and near the Strip, like S’derot. This is still happening.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saw the the Palestinian leaders were not enforcing peace that Arafat had signed for at Oslo. Sharon wanted to show the world that he was all for peace, so had Israeli citizens move out of Gaza Strip in August of 2005, and also had several Jewish communities in the northern part of the West Bank move out also.
It was most costly to move 9,000 Israelis out of the Gaza Strip who had been in their homes for 35 years. Israel felt that they had to move because of the Arab’s hatred of Jews is so great that it would be hard to protect them. However, more than one million Arabs are settled peacefully in Israel without need for protection. Israelis felt that putting the Gaza Strip under Palestinian control would be starting the peace process. We haven’t had peace. Shelling of rockets continues, even now because in January 2006, Palestinians in Gaza voted for the Hamas terrorist group, who won on the stand of destruction of Israel and establishing an Islamic state from the river to the sea.
Israel had voted for peace while the Palestinians voted for terrorism. It appears that everyone is now trying to get Israel to return to the armistice lines of 1949, thinking that will bring peace.
The Arabs were threatening, planning and trying to destroy Israel at that time. They attacked us on three sides. This war cost Israel in 6 days twice as many dead in proportion to her total population as the USA lost in 8 years of fighting in Vietnam. For 18 years the Arabs had done hostile acts against Israel, had broken every relevant paragraph in the Armistice Agreements of 1949 which everyone had signed. It meant nothing to the Arabs.
Reference: Myths and Facts by Mitchell G. Bard and Joel Himelfarb
Big Lies: demolishing the myths of the propaganda war against Israel by David Meir-Levi
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia by Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, D. Phil,
Battleground, Fact and Fantasy in Palestine bySamuel Katz