Gaza: A Short History

Different peoples and empires throughout its history have dominated Gaza. Starting with the Egyptian empire then the Roman and Byzantine Empire.

With the advent of the seventh century Gaza flourished as a commercial centre under the rule of the Muslims and was incorporated into the newly formed Arabic empire. The crusaders left the city as ruins to be taken by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century. Gaza enjoyed a period of stability, great commerce and peace that lasted till the end of the WW1 when Gaza became a part of the British mandate of Palestine. Gaza was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, but in 1993, the city was transferred to the Palestinian National Authority. That did not stop Israel from carrying on its policy of ethnic cleansing towards the Palestinians and especially the Gazans.

The history of Gaza is the history of ‘empires come and empires go’ but the people of Gaza always remain in the land. They do not go. They remain to grow more children and more olive trees. Many times they have been conquered but never have they been treated like prisoners. Never have they been terrorized nor punished except by the Israeli occupation. Never have they been humiliated nor the olive trees uprooted like this before.

The baffling thing about the Israelis is that they came and settled – by brutal force- in Palestine employing historical claims to the land, which in fact says almost nothing about any ancient Israelites. The Promised Land seems to recall no memories of those who were promised the land. The excavations revealed abundant Egyptian, Roman and Islamic archeological findings but hardly any Jewish relics that could parallel the enormously exaggerated history – or rather tales of the Bible. The honest Israeli archeologists – Ze`ef Herzog and Israel Finkelstein – argue that Israelis should be mature enough and grow up to the fact that the Exodus from Egypt, the holy patriarchs and the kingdom of Judea are nothing but mere fairy tales.

The only true history of the Jews in Palestine is the history of an integrated minority of tradesmen and herders – they was always on the move – who happened to excel at telling and propagating stories.

If the Promised Land could talk, it would talk in Arabic, scream in Arabic and yell at the Israelis to stop lying, to stop invading the fields of olives. If the land could talk, it would say, “Israelis, I do not know you”

Ashraf Ezzat

Veterans Today

July 4, 2010

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