However, Israel has contributed mightily to the violence. Israel occupied Gaza for four decades and continues to occupy the West Bank, with which Gaza long was intimately connected. Only in 2005 did Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finally remove 8,000 settlers, who enjoyed a privileged existence in the midst of more than one million Palestinians, many of them refugees or descended from refugees forcibly displaced by Israel’s formation.
Once Hamas was elected, Israel blockaded the territory, even calculating the minimum calories needed for each resident, according to reports on defense ministry files from 2008. Although Israel has since eased the rules, the Israeli humanitarian group Gisha noted: “Gaza’s connections with Israel and the West Bank, vital for its economy and the welfare of its residents, are still subject to sweeping restrictions.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “No government would tolerate a situation” where its “people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile file.” True. But neither would any government tolerate a situation where its people live in what former Israeli official Shlomo Ben-Ami termed “an open air prison.”