Friday, October 31, 2014

Israel and Gaza: Prophecy and History of Jewish Settlement In Gaza Strip

1. History of Gaza in Biblical Time
Gaza first appears in the Tanach as a Philistine city, the site of Samson's dramatic death. Jews finally conquered it in the Hasmonean era, and continued to live there. Notable residents include Dunash Ibn Labrat, and Nathan of Gaza, advisor to false messiah Shabtai Zvi. Gaza is within the boundaries of Shevet Yehuda in Biblical Israel (see Genesis 15, Joshua 15:47, Kings 15:47 and Judges 1:18) and therefore some have argued that there is a Halachic requirement to live in this land.

2. What Exactly Is The Gaza Strip?
The Gaza Strip is a roughly rectangular territory surrounding the city of Gaza, wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and Israel. To the southwest, it shares a seven-mileborder with Egypt. The region has a long history of occupation—by the ancient Egyptians, the Philistines, the Arabs, the Christian Crusaders, and the Ottomans. AfterWorld War I, the Gaza area became part of the British Mandate of Palestine, and it was occupied by Egypt in 1948, in the aftermath of the first Arab-Israeli war. Israel took control of the region during the Six-Day War in 1967, along with the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.

In 1994, Israel withdrew from parts of the Gaza Strip as part of its obligations under the Oslo Accords (which also affirmed the rights of the Palestinians to self-government). The Palestinian National Authority and Israel shared power in the Gaza Strip for the next 10 years, with the PNA administering civilian control and the Israelis overseeing military affairs as well as the borders, airspace, and remaining Israeli settlements.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally ended military rule in the region and withdrew all Israeli settlements, thus bringing all areas of the Gaza Strip under Palestinian administration. However, Airspace and coastal waters remained under Israeli control. In 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, causing a division between the region and the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank, where the Fatah party is dominant. Ariel Sharon as the Israeli president in 2008.

3. How Did It Come To Be That Shape?
The rectangular Gaza Strip is about 25 miles long and three to seven miles wide. One long side lies along the Mediterranean. One short, straight end borders Egypt: This follows the border that existed between Egypt and the British Mandate of Palestine. The other sides of the rectangle—a long, ragged edge and a shorter, northeastern side—separate the Gaza Strip from Israel. This border was established after the first Arab-Israeli War, which also resulted in the creation of Israel.

The Gaza region became Egypt's military headquarters during the 1948 conflict, and the narrow coastal strip saw heavy fighting. When the cease-fire was announced later that year—following a decisive Israeli victory—the final position of the military fronts became what's known as "the Green Line," or the border between the Palestinian territories (both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) and Israel.

4. Who Lives On The Gaza Strip?
Since the withdrawal of Israeli settlements, the Gazan population is almost entirely Palestinian Arab. More than 99 percent are Sunni Muslims, with a very small number of Christians. The region saw a huge influx of Palestinian refugees after the creation of Israel in 1948—within 20 years, the population of Gaza had grown to six times its previous size. The Gaza Strip now has one of the highest population densities in the world: Almost 1.5 million people live within its 146 square miles. Eighty percent of Gazans live below the poverty line.

5. Who Built The Fence Between Gaza And Egypt? Who Controls The Border?
In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty that returned the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip, to Egyptian control. As part of that treaty, a 100-meter-wide strip of land known as the Philadelphi corridor was established as a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt. Israel built a barrier there during the Palestinian uprisings of the early 2000s. It's made mostly of corrugated sheet metal, with stretches of concrete topped with barbed wire.

In 2005, when Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt reached a military agreement regarding the border, based on the principles of the 1979 peace treaty. The agreement specified that 750 Egyptian border guards would be deployed along the length of the border, and both Egypt and Israel pledged to work together to stem terrorism, arms smuggling, and other illegal cross-border activities.

From November 2005 until July 2007, the Rafah Crossing—the only entry-exit point along the Gaza-Egypt border—was jointly controlled by Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, with the European Union monitoring Palestinian compliance on the Gaza side. After the Hamas takeover in June 2007, the European Union pulled out of the region, and Egypt agreed with Israel to shut down the Rafah Crossing, effectively sealing off the Gaza Strip on all sides.

6. Earlier Settlement Till 1956
The earliest settlement of the area is by Avraham and Yitzhak, both of whom lived in the Gerar area of Gaza. In the fourth century Gaza was the primary Jewish port of Israel for international trade and commerce. Great medieval rabbis such as Rabbi Yisrael Najara, author of Kah Ribon Olam, the popular Shabbat song, and renowned Mekubal Rabbi Avraham Azoulai, were rabbanim in Gaza Jewish communities.

The periodic removal of Jews from Gaza goes back at least to the Romans in 61 CE, followed much later by the Crusaders, Napoleon, the Ottoman Turks, the British and the contemporary Egyptians. However, Jews definitely lived in Gaza throughout the centuries, with a stronger presence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Jews were present in Gaza until 1929, when they were forced to leave the area due to violent riots against them by the Arabs. Following these riots, and the death of nearly 135 Jews in all, the British prohibited Jews from living in Gaza to quell tension and appease the Arabs. Some Jews returned, however, and, in 1946, kibbutz Kfar Darom was established to prevent the British from separating the Negev from the Jewish state.

The United Nations 1947 partition plan allotted the coastal strip from Yavneh to Rafiah on the Egyptian border to be an Arab state. In Israel's war for independence, most Arab inhabitants in this region fled or were expelled, settling around Gaza City. Israeli forces conquered Gaza, and proceeded south to El-Arish, but subsequently gave control of the area to Egypt in negotiations, keeping Ashdod and Ashkelon. In 1956, Israel went to war with Egypt, conquered Gaza again, only to return it again.

7. After Six Day War 1967
With the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli forces reentered Gaza and captured it. During the war, Israel had no idea what it would do with the territory. Eshkol called it “a bone stuck in our throats.”

The initial settlements were established by the Labor government in the early 1970s. The first was Kfar Darom, which was originally established in 1946, and reformed in 1970. In 1981, as part of a peace treaty with Egypt, the last settlements of the Sinai were destroyed, and some Jews moved to the Gaza area. Israeli settlers reside in 18 percent of the 363 square kilometer area. They are sparsely settled in the area as compared to the density of the Palestinian regions in the Gaza Strip.

There are twenty-one settlements in Gaza. The most populated Gush Katif area contains some thirty synagogues plus Yeshivat Torat Hachim with 200 students, the Hesder Yeshiva with 150 students, the Mechina in Atzmona with 200 students, Yeshivot in Netzarim and Kfar Darom, 6 Kollelim, a Medrasha for girls in Neve Dekalim and more. All of the settlements have their own schools, seminaries, stores, and doctors.

The largest group of settlements is the Katif bloc, located along the southern Gaza coastline. These settlements block access to the coast from the major Palestinian cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah and cement Israeli control on the Egypt-Gaza border. Another group of settlements (comprising Elei Sinai, Dugit, and Nisanit) are located along Gaza's northern border with Israel, expanding the Israeli presence from the city of Ashkelon (inside Israel) to the edges of Gaza City (the Erez Industrial zone is part of this bloc).

Netzarim, Kfar Darom, and Morag are strategically located in the heart of the Gaza Strip (along a north-south axis), creating a framework for Israeli control of the area and its main transportation route, and facilitating Israel's ability to divide the Gaza Strip into separate areas and isolate each area's inhabitants. In addition, the settlements control prime agricultural land, some of the area's main aquifers, and approximately one-third of the total Gaza coastline.

The Gaza settlements range from religious communities (Atzmona, Bedolah, Gadid, Ganei Tal, Gan Or, Katif, Kfar Darom, Morag, Netzarim, Netzer Hazani, and Neve Dekalim) to non-religious communities (Dugit, Elei Sinai, Kfar Yam), to mixed communities (Nisanit, Pe'at Sade, and Rafiah Yam). Their economies are generally based on agriculture (with many classified as “moshavim” or cooperative agricultural villages), with some local industry (Neve Dekalim and Katif) and tourist facilities (Dugit, Katif bloc).

One settlement, Gadid, has a large French population and maintains an absorption center for new immigrants from France. The isolated location of the Gush Katif bloc attracts some of the most ideologically-motivated members of the Gaza settlement community.

Residents of the northern bloc (Elei Sinai, Nisanit, and Dugit) are physically separated from the rest of the Gaza settlers (to reach the other settlements they must travel into Israel, then re-enter Gaza, through another entrance point) and their social and economic lives are more closely linked to Israel than other settlers, with many of the residents working and studying inside Israel.

Jews and Muslims co-existed for more than a decade but tension rose, and in 1987, a Jewish shopper in a Gazan market was stabbed to death. The next day an Israeli truck accidentally killed four Arabs, sparking the first riots of what would become the first intifada. A brief period of calm followed the Oslo agreements as Israel agreed to withdraw from parts of the Gaza Strip.

Ultimately, the Palestinian Authority assumed control over about 80 percent of the area, but an escalation of violence, especially after September 2000, led Israel to impose stricter measures on Palestinians in the area, and to engage in frequent military operations to prevent terrorist attacks against soldiers and Jews living in the Gaza settlements as well as infiltrations to attack targets inside Israel.

8. Jewish Evacuation From Gaza Strip
On August 17, 2005, Israel began to evacuate all the Jews from Gaza. It was expected to take several weeks, but took less than one. Israel and the Palestinians agreed the buildings would be razed and the army began that process after the residents left.

A total of 1,700 families were uprooted at a cost of nearly $900 million. This includes 166 Israeli farmers who produce $120 million in flowers and produce. Approximately 15 percent of Israel's agricultural exports originate in Gaza, including 60 percent of its cherry tomato and herb exports. Israel will also lose 70 percent of all its organic produce, which also is grown in Gaza.

Since the disengagement process was completed, no Jews have been present in the Gaza Strip

9. The Bible Prophecy About Gaza (The Future of Israel)
The Bible links GAZA to the coming "Apocalypse." Several years ago the world watched as all the Jews in Gaza were forcibly removed from their homes and their land ... even those buried in cemeteries were forcibly dug up from their graves and removed from Gaza. This 'uprooting' of the Jews from Gaza which the whole world watched on the news may be a much more 'significant' prophetic event than most realize.

In the book of Zephaniah, God gave a terrible warning, Gaza would one day be ‘forsaken' (yes, that same Gaza you have recently been watching on the world news). Gaza is in the land which was given to the tribe of Judah (Josh. 15:1-12), and one of Messiah's titles is "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah" (Rev. 5:5). God links the forsaking of Gaza to the coming 'Apocalypse,' which is also called 'The Day of God’s Wrath' and the 'Day of the Lord's Anger."

From these following passages in Zephaniah 2:1-7, God wants the children of Israel and ALL people on Earth to learn and know at least THREE (3) things . . .

1.  The Bible LINKS Gaza to the coming Apocalypse. GOD has issued a terrible warning and a 'plea' to the children of Israel and to ALL people on Earth...  In the day of the Lord's anger" (Zeph. 2:1-7).

2.  GOD wants all in Israel and on Earth to know what will help trigger this fierce and terrible anger:  Gaza!!   He warns, 'Gaza will be forsaken'... her inhabitants (the children of Israel) 'uprooted' and 'driven out'…  So there shall be no inhabitant" (Zeph. 2:1-7).

3.  GOD also wants all to know there is Hope.  He promises hope for all those who will wait in faith and trust in Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew)... for one-day in the future, after the coming 'Apocalypse' ... the 'Day of God's Wrath' ... the terrible coming 'Day of the Lord' a remnant of the tribe of Judah will once again peacefully inhabit and prosper in that precious land God promised and gave to them ... and then, and only then, will there be 'peace on Earth.'   For at that time, our Messiah and God will restore all the Earth in peace and beauty ... as promised (Zeph. 2:1-7).

As noted earlier, the Bible links Gaza to the coming ‘Apocalypse’ which is also called the Day of the Lord’s Fierce Anger, or the Day of God’s Wrath, when ALL nations will turn against Israel. God warns His land and His people Israel will be divided. The fulfillment of this prophetic division began when the children of Israel forsook Gaza (and Judah) as it willingly gave Gaza to her enemies!! (2Chro. 20:1-30, Joel 3:1-2, Rev. 16:12-16).

The weapons will be used. Much of the world will be destroyed. Cities will disappear. Armageddon means the "Hill of Megiddo." Megiddo is part of the Plain of Esdraelon which is located in central Israel. Napoleon came through there and declared it to be the finest battlefield in the world. The whole world will be drawn into this war over Israel and Jerusalem. No nation will be spared. The Bible warns there will be three deadly waves associated with this conflict, including: A Russian lead invasion of Israel, a massive Chinese invasion of the Middle East, which will then be "joined" as the armies of the Antichrist march from all around the world to the place called "Armageddon." Jesus will return to engage this final battle Himself. He alone will destroy the enemies of Israel. We don’t know the time between events. We do know that God has set aside seven years to complete His plan with Israel, and this Age (Jer.30:7,  Dan.12:1, Zech. 13:8-9, 14:2, Matt.24:21-22).

Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew) warns NEVER in the history of Mankind has there ever been (or ever will be) anything as terrible and deadly as the coming "Apocalypse"... only a small remnant of the world will survive after the coming Antichrist commits "the abomination of desolations" when he will stand in a new Jewish Temple and demand to be worshiped above all that is called "god" The Scriptures tell us Messiah, Jesus Christ, will return twice:

First, "As a thief in the night" for all believers
Second, "Every eye shall see" with all believers

(Rev. 1:7, Jude 1:14-15,  Isai.66:15-16, Dan. 7:13-14, Isai.24:19-20, Zech. 14:4, 6, 7, Isai.2:2,4, Jer.3:17, Luke 1:32-33,  Rev.1:5-7, 5:9-12, 19:11-16).

We find the Rapture is somewhat analogous to a loving Bridegroom yanking His young wife ('betrothed') off the railroad tracks just as the train goes thundering by. Prophet after prophet in the Bible warns of a very specific period of time referred to by many names, including the "Day of the Lord’s Wrath (fierce anger)," the "Great Tribulation" or the "Apocalypse" (which actually refers to the Revelation or "revealing"), when God is going to pour out His wrath on a violent, immoral, arrogant, and unbelieving world. We are told those who believe in His Son and wait in faith are not appointed to this time of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9-11).

The actual word "rapture" is not found in most Bibles. The Greek word which was translated "caught up" in the English, was translated in the Latin as "rapturo." So, the term "rapture" comes from a Latin translation. In fact the Greek word actually used, which was translated in the King James version as "caught up" (1 Thes.4:17), is "harpazo" which easily could have been, or should have been translated, "to seize, to pluck away, or to take by force."

The view presented in this book supports the belief that this generation is the generation of the Rapture and a worldwide body of faithful believers will be removed suddenly before the "Day of the Lord’s Wrath" (the coming Apocalypse), and since it appears the time draws near, it is worth the time to look at a few of the verses found in the Bible which directly, or indirectly refer to this strange, forceful, prophetic event which we simply call the Rapture ... (for a more complete study read Prophecies of the Rapture study.).  (1Cor.15:51-52, 1Thes.4:16-18, Rev.3:10-11, Zeph. 2:1-7, Matt. 24:36, 40-42, Luke 12:40, 1Thes.5:1-2).

As noted above in these prophecies of Gaza, God ALSO wants all to know there is Hope. He promises hope for all those who will wait in faith and trust in Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew) ... for one-day in the future, after Gaza will be forsaken, and after the coming 'Apocalypse' (the 'Day of God's Wrath'') the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ, will return at the very end of the coming ‘Apocalypse’ to save the remnant of Israel from the armies of the world which will one day gather against her. He will then rule and reign over Israel ... and over ALL nations of the World.

At that time a remnant of the tribe of Judah will once again peacefully inhabit and prosper in that precious land God promised and gave to them ... and then, and only then, will there be 'peace on Earth.' For at that time, God will restore Israel and all the Earth in peace and beauty... as promised. Then, at that time, God will restore the land of Judah, and ALL the Earth in peace and beauty ... as promised (Zephaniah 2:1-7).

Americans for Peace Now. The Cabinet Resolution Regarding the Disengagement Plan Jewish Agency for Israel Settlements in Focus (Vol. I, Issue 5).

Bard Mitchell, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict. 3rd Edition. NY: Alpha  Books, 2005.

Michael Oren, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 253.

Nina Rastogi,  Gaza: The Basics. Some history and background on the Gaza Strip. January 25, 2008.


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