Gaza: A History

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Napoleon had to secure it in to launch his failed campaign on Palestine. In , the British Empire fought for months to conquer Gaza, before establishing its mandate on Palestine. In , 20, Palestinians sought refuge in Gaza, a marginal area that neither Israel nor Egypt wanted. Palestinian nationalism grew there, and Gaza has since found itself at the heart of Palestinian history. Protesters run away from tear gas dispersed by Israeli forces as they inch closer to the border fence separating Israel and Gaza on May 14, Embassy to Jerusalem.

In This Review

Tensions escalated, adding to the growing list of violent confrontations that have taken place on the Gaza Strip. Despite numerous peace efforts, the territory has been characterized by instability and warfare and continues to remain a volatile region. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. This Day In History. The Stamp Act Riots. The Cars That Made America. Of course, many of these attacks lead to changes in policy or military action, particularly by the Israelis but it would benefit the reader if this could be condensed and the author could concentrate more on analysis of events rather than direct reporting of who died, how many died, and who survived.

The horror of the plight of the Palestinian refugees cannot be denied, and Filiu does a superb job providing the reader with an understanding of their plight. Discussions of the life and politics in the Kan Younes, Jabaliya, Rafah, Nuseirat, Bureji, and Deir al-Balah camps are important because from these camps the varying leadership and shock troops of the militant Palestinian groups emerge.

We witness an Arafat who must balance himself between the many Palestinian factions that emerge over the years and by he begins to engage in the diplomatic process with Israel and the United States leading to the Oslo Accords in and the failure of the Camp David talks in Next to Arafat, the man who receives the most attention from the author is Sheik Ahmed Yassin who became the leader of the Moslem Brotherhood in Gaza in Later, in he would set up an organization called the Mujamma designed to meet the social service and educational needs of the Palestinians in Gaza.

In response to the Intifada of the younger generation of Palestinians against Israel he founded Hamas the Movement of Islamic Resistance. It is here that Filiu does his best work as he describes the ideological differences between the various groups that vie to represent the Palestinians. He explores the ideologies and strategies that Fatah, the Muslim Brotherhood that eventually evolves into Hamas , Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in detail, and how they hope to achieve Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and explains the reasons Hamas emerged as the dominant force in Gaza today.

Hamas would launch its first home made Qassam rockets, employ its first female suicide bombers, and reject all calls to demilitarize the second Intifada. However, instead of using their victory as a positive force they engaged in a fratricidal war with Fatah.


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But as Donald Macintyre suggests in the The Independent it would have been interesting if Filiu provided greater analysis of these events and the actions of the Bush administration, as well as the lack of action by the European Union as they sabotaged any chance of an international agreement with Hamas by the policies they pursued.

Earlier I mentioned that Filiu at times is not totally objective in his presentation.

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A few cases in point; in discussing casualties in various attacks and counter attacks, the author provides minute details of Palestinians and then glosses over Israeli casualties. The reader is presented with the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husani as a leader of the Palestinian people, but Filiu skirts over his alliance with Nazi Germany during the war, and his work to help Nazis accused in the Holocaust to escape to the Middle East. In , the author suggests that Nasser ordered the UN forces out of Sharm el-Sheik to take Arab pressure off of him for restraining Fedayeen attacks against Israel.

In fact the Russians kept feeding Egypt information about the coming Israeli attack and that he should take action.

Gaza: A History by Jean-Pierre Filiu; Trans. John King, book review | The Independent

In his discussion of the outbreak of the Intifada, the author should explain the demographic and financial inequalities in the Arab world that in part led to the outbreak of violence, and perhaps mention that though Arafat took credit for the revolt, it caught him by surprise just as it had the Israelis.

I find the documentation that Filiu uses rather selective at times, concentrating on United Nations Documents and mostly pro-Arab secondary sources. I am not suggesting these sources are wrong, however one should employ a myriad of sources to assure objectivity. Despite these flaws Filiu has prepared a remarkable book that fills the historiographical gap that is apparent with the paucity of historical monographs that examine Gaza.

Israel and Gaza: Inside the conflict

New Haven: Yale University Press, Jul 20, Doug Cornelius rated it it was ok Shelves: publisher-provided , read-in , history , non-fiction. Great history books put events in context, bring the historical figures to life, and let you know why those events and figures are important.

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The worst history books are rote recitals of names, dates and events. I picked up an advance review copy of Gaza , by Jean-Pierre Filiu, hoping it would give me some insight into how we got to the current cycle of violence in the region. It does provide some of that. Gaza sits at the intersection of Egypt and the Levant. Armies and empires crossed back and f Great history books put events in context, bring the historical figures to life, and let you know why those events and figures are important.


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Armies and empires crossed back and forth across the region for millennia. The current plight came during the creation of Israel. Palestinian refugees piled into the area around Gaza City and Israel herded the mass of those expelled in As Egypt and Israel fought in the area, the Gaza Strip was left relatively untouched. Instead, we have seen three generation of terrorism and oppression. Unfortunately, Gaza is not a great history book. It falls closer to the other end of the spectrum.

History of the City of Gaza

The recital of events gets particularly tiresome as the book approaches the last twenty years. The cycle of attacks from Gaza and escalating reprisals from Israel are repetitive. It could be twenty years ago or last month, similar events continue. Jan 29, Bryan rated it liked it. Good information and history. Doesn't seem particularly unbalanced as some have indicated - more a treatment of faults on all sides through time. However, it is difficult to wade through the details lacking some distillation from events and players providing structure.

The concluding chapter on the future and hope seems to be throwaway without substantiation for the recommendations. Sep 12, ! Brace yourself for a tsunami of human tragedy, centuries of man-made crisis that doesn't seem to have solutions in sight.