Much of the world buys the line -- peddled by the Palestinians and the Arab Muslim world and, indeed, many Western countries -- that paints Israel as the bad "Goliath" that "stole" the land from the "Palestinians."
Israel gave Gaza self-rule in 1994, unilaterally withdrawing the last of its citizens and soldiers from Gaza in 2005. Hamas, voted into power via free elections in 2006, fought and defeated their political and military rival, Fatah, to seize de facto control of Gaza in 2007. In the past eight years, Hamas has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars into Israel -- 7,000 of them after Israel's 2005 withdrawal. With improved technology -- reportedly assisted by Iran -- Hamas' rockets can now fly 24 miles before impact and explosion, thereby threatening, injuring and killing more and more Israelis living in southern Israel.
But why the "disproportionate" response by Israel? Reportedly, more than 600 Palestinians have been killed, some civilians. Set aside for the moment that Hamas' charter specifically calls for the "obliteration" of the state of Israel. And set aside the fact that the Palestinian "militants" fight in heavily populated areas, assuring, indeed encouraging (for PR purposes) civilian casualties.
We turn our attention to the "stolen" allegation.
Israel lies in the ancient Fertile Crescent's southwest corner, with some of the oldest archeological evidence of primitive towns and agriculture. Historians and archeologists believe the Hebrews probably arrived in the area in the second millennium B.C. The nation itself was formed as the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus, believed to be in the late 13th century B.C.
The 12 tribes of Israel united in about 1050 B.C., forming the Kingdom of Israel. David, the second king of Israel, established Jerusalem as Israel's national capital 3,000 years ago. Jewish kingdoms and states existed intermittently in the region for a millennium.
After conquests by Babylonians, Persians and Greeks, an independent Jewish kingdom was briefly revived in 168 B.C., but Rome took control in the next century, renaming the land of Judea "Palestine" after the Philistines, historical enemies of the Israelites'.
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