ABSTRACT

It is notoriously difficult in some Gazan contexts to ascribe motives, and it is no easy task for observers to determine when empowered Israeli civil or military leaders are really trying to target small numbers of Hamas terrorist fighters and when they are trying to terrorize entire Gaza populations. In some situations they may be trying to carry out both tasks in the name of defending Israel. Regardless, the stubborn refusal to bow to the overwhelming material power of the Israelis puzzles those who can only configure Hamas as a terrorist organization. The election of Hamas officials, and the relative disempowerment of more “moderate” Arabs from the Palestinian Authority (PA), infuriated many Israelis who were already convinced they were surrounded by extremists who wanted to drive them into the sea. While members of Likud, Labor, or other parties in Israel often disagreed about the nature, scope, and magnitude of terrorists threats in general, they often set aside their political bickering and agreed that the Gaza Strip provided complex challenges that went beyond the ones that confronted the Israelis in the West Bank. Before the first Intifada, it could be argued that many Israelis genuinely believed in land for security arrangements and the importance of developing regulatory practices that allowed for the flow of Palestinians in and out of Israel. These earlier debates were about the pros and cons of one-or two-state solutions, and the valence of these conversations changed with the advent of the Intifadas. As noted in earlier chapters, the Israelis began to deploy more segregationist policies that controlled the mobility of Palestinians while protecting the settlers, the occupants of Jerusalem, and others who lived in the “disputed territories” or Israel “proper.”1