by Michael Freund
Gaza belongs to the Jewish people, and it is time we started treating it as such.  Gaza has a long and rich Jewish history
stretching back to biblical times.  After the Exodus from Egypt, when the tribes of Israel were apportioned various parts of the Promised Land, Gaza was given to the Tribe of Judah (see Joshua 15:47 and Judges 1:18) as its share of the eternal inheritance.

The Hasmonean King Yochanan, brother of Judah the Maccabee, retook Gaza in 145 BCE and his brother, Shimon, sent Jews to settle there hundreds of years before the advent of Islam.  In the fourth century, Gaza served as the primary port of commerce for the Jews of the Holy Land.

Nearly 40 years ago, the outskirts of Gaza City near the sea, Egyptian archeologists discovered a mosaic floor from an ancient synagogue dating from the sixth century.  It is one of the oldest and largest ever found in the Land of Israel.

During the Middle Ages, Gaza was home to a thriving Jewish community which boasted its share of prominent rabbis.  Centuries ago, the great scholar Rabbi Ya'acov Emden ruled that "Gaza and its environs are absolutely considered part of the Land of Israel.... There is no doubt that it is  a mitzva to live there, as in any part of the Land of Israel."

In August 1929, when Arab rioters threatened to slaughter Gaza Jewry, the British army forced the community to evacuate.  In October 1946, the Gaza Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom was established.  It lasted just a year and a half, until the outbreak of Israel's War of Independence in 1948, when Egypt overran the area and occupied it.  Finally in 1967, in a war of self-defense,
Israel retook Gaza, making it possible for Jews to reside there once again.

Hence, the 7,000 Jews currently living in Gaza are neither invaders, nor occupiers, nor intruders.  They are indigenous residents who have returned home, treading on the very same ground as their ancestors before them.
Jerusalem Post, December 3, 2002
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