Which came first: Israeli occupation or Qassam rockets?

By Faith Attaguile

Resident, Del Mar

“We must expel Arabs and take their places.”

— David Ben-Gurion,

1937 Israeli Prime Minister (1949-54, 1955-63)

And so the story begins. When Israel was created in 1947, Zionists owned 7 percent of the land and constituted 33 percent of the population. They got 55 percent of historic Palestine. The rest of Palestine was divided into two areas: the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Not surprisingly, Palestinians felt this division was unjust and struggled against it.

Noting this, Ben-Gurion said in 1956, “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: ... [W]e have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”

Yet Palestinians did exactly that. In the mid-1970s they signaled acceptance of a two-state solution if Israel withdrew to internationally recognized June 1967 borders. Eighty percent of their original homeland for peace — what a trade!

Yet Israel refused it, taking even more. Under Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, Gaza has become a modern-day Warsaw ghetto. A murderous three-year siege and vicious 22-day war has devastated it. The war killed 1,400 Palestinians and wounded 5,300 (14 Israelis died). Agricultural lands, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and homes were destroyed. Israel bombed Gaza back to the mud age because, under Israel’s blockade, the only material available to rebuild Gazan homes is mud.

At the same time, about 46 percent of the West Bank has effectively been annexed to Israel. Illegal colonies in the West Bank house almost 500,000 Israeli settlers. Protected by the IDF, they sit on the richest lands, suck up the available water and are serviced by a gridwork of checkpoint-riddled, Israeli-only roads completely imprisoning unconnected Palestinian areas. They prevent people from cultivating their lands, visiting families and getting medical care. Between 2000-2006, 68 Palestinian women gave birth at Israeli checkpoints; 34 miscarried; four died in childbirth.

None of this is surprising given Zionist goals for a “Greater Israel” by any means necessary. In 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu said to Israeli settlers, “Our message is clear. We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity.”

He was standing on Palestinian land. It’s amazing it took 34 years of hideous occupation before Palestinians fired their first Qassam rocket. How long would it have taken us?