Visit to Gaza June 20-21, 2010David H. Shinn
“One If by Land, Two If by Sea”
My entry into Gaza through the modern and highly secure Israelifacility at Erez on Gaza’s northern border with Israel was uneventful ascompared to Paul Revere’s midnight ride in 1775 when two lanterns in thesteeple of the Old North Church in Boston signaled that the British werearriving by sea. Nor did it have the drama surrounding the five vessel flotilladestined for Gaza preceding my border crossing by land. Revere’s ride,immortalized by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, does, however, remindus of troubled times in widely separated parts of the world during differenteras. This was my first visit to Gaza. As a result, the account that followscertainly contains errors of omission and perhaps unwittingly some of co-mission.
The Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip is a narrow band of land about 45 kilometers long, 6kilometers wide at its narrowest point and 13 kilometers wide at the widestpoint. It constitutes 165 square kilometers, which makes it about the size of Singapore or the tiny Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Gaza is surrounded onthe north and east by Israel, on the southwest by Egypt and on the west bythe Mediterranean Sea. You can drive the length of Gaza in 45 minutes.More than 1.5 million people live in this densely populated land. Until 1948,Gaza was the administrative capital of a strip of land stretching from thePalestinian border with Egypt to Ashdod in present day Israel. As Israelexpanded its territory in 1948, it stopped at the borders of Gaza whichbecame a sanctuary for some 200,000 to 250,000 Palestinian refugeesexpelled from land that became part of Israel. In 1949, Egypt and Israelsigned an armistice establishing the current boundaries for Gaza. Theterritory holds no religious significance for the Jewish people.
The Governance Situation
Hamas firmly controls Gaza while the party of Fatah, led by PalestinianAuthority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, governs in the West Bank. Hamasis an acronym for an organization that translates as the Islamic ResistanceMovement. Hamas developed in 1987 from the Muslim Brotherhood, a