The stakes rise in Strip poker: A grim message from Gaza

THEY ARE widening the road from Tel Aviv to the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, and nobody can figure out why. Few Israelis would dream of going to Gaza. And nowadays the Palestinians are often penned in, as they are now, under curfew. Taxi drivers held up at the roadworks pass the time with a joke: 'It's either the new connecting corridor they're building to link Gaza to the West Bank, ready for Palestinian autonomy. Or it's to make way for an Israeli invasion of Egypt.'

After last week's events, the first suggestion seems almost as unlikely as the second. Autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip looks further off than ever.

But fading hopes for peace have spread new fears about Gaza. The murder of the Israeli border guard, Nissim Toledano, by Hamas activists has heightened those fears. Hamas was spawned in the narrow shanty alleys of Gaza refugee camps, and many of the 400 deportees who are now languishing in no man's land in southern Lebanon came from from the Gaza Strip. The question that is being asked by more and more Israelis is: why not just get rid of Gaza without waiting for the peace negotiations to succeed? The idea that Israel might simply cut and run is not a new one. But it has been gaining credibility.

Four members of the government have called for a debate on the issue. Chaim Ramon, the Health Minister, said unilateral withdrawal could speed up the peace process. 'Gaza is different from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). We have no interest in being in Gaza long-term,' he said.

The Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, said in August that he hoped Gaza would 'drop into the sea', but he has opposed unilateral withdrawal.

In 1987 the intifada erupted in Gaza and then spread to the West Bank. Now it is heard every day in the militant cries of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which has one clear aim: to kill off the state of Israel once and for all and set up an Islamic state. Massive Israeli resources are deployed to maintain the military occupation and keep the lid on the area.

Those who support handing back the Gaza Strip argue that, unlike the West Bank, it has little biblical importance to Israel. As a result, there is only a handful of Jewish settlements on the strip. But, more important, they say, since the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, it no longer has any strategic importance.

Those who oppose disengagement say that handing over Gaza, except as part of a negotiated settlement, would be interpreted by the Arabs as weakness. 'I do not see any sense in giving something away without getting something back,' says Shlomo Gazitt, the former head of Israeli military

intelligence.

What the Israelis fear most is the type of regime that might replace Israeli occupation. Hamas and the PLO have been engaged in often-violent turf battles in the Gaza Strip all year. Now Hamas appears to be winning, particularly with the support it has gained since the murder of Nissim Toledano. And Hamas does not talk peace.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line IT Support / Senior Engineer / Support Analyst

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recognised as one of the fastes...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor