Thursday, July 24, 2014

A HISTORY OF PALESTINE



Let us be clear about one thing. I am not writing these “blogs” as an apology for the number of civilians’ deaths in this Israel invasion of the Gaza strip because I am Jewish. I am posting it because there are facts that are constantly being ignored or rejected by some through lack of knowledge and other by pure bigotry. The facts that I present can all be confirmed through googling the internet; however my sources were multiple and I am not able to note all sources.


Before there can be any discussion about what or who is right or wrong in Gaza it is impossible to understand what is happening in Palestine today without at least a brief 1200 word historical record of the area.


From about 1100 BC the twelve tribes of Israel lives in the highlands of what was Judea and Samaria as well as the coastal areas. Jerusalem was David’s and Solomon’s capital and the first Temple was there.  After Solomon’s death the Kingdom split into two. In the  north the larger and more powerful Israel's  capital was in Samaria which in 742BC was captured and destroyed by Assyria . The ten tribes that supposedly occupied that area are known as the lost tribes, but it is believed that most of the population remained and ultimately was absorbed in other newer occupants of that area. Their descendants live there to this date.


The smaller Southern nation Judea lasted until about 586BC when the Babylonians destroyed the city and the Temple. This led to the Babylonia captivity, although it is now believed that the majority still remained in that area, until the Persian conquest and the return and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Second Temple after 536 BC.


Other rulers over Palestine were Alexander and his Greek successors from 330 BC until the Roman conquest around 73BC

The Second Temple was destroyed after a Jewish revolution in 70AD (CE) and d the Jewish population was dispersed although population centers remained near the Galilee.


The country more or less remained under Roman/Byzantine rule until about 634AD when Islam conquered it. Although the population majority  was still Christian until the time of Saladin about 1187 AD it was ruled by various Islamic Caliphs with the exception of a brief period under Crusader rule from 1099 to 1187, until 1516 when the Ottomans Captured Jerusalem.


Their rule last until the end of WWI until Dec. 1917 when the British captured the City. In 1922 the British were given by the League of Nations the mandate over the area. (The French received what is now Iraq and Syria)
 MODERN ERA


This brings us up to the last near 100 years; starting with the Balfour Declaration a November 2, 1917 letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild that made public the British support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration led the League of Nations to entrust the United Kingdom with the Palestine Mandate in 1922.



However the British treated its Mandate as a colony albeit one that firs had Arab insurrection and later a period of Jewish underground fighting. But in 1948 the British had literally wiped its hands from any control of the region on May 14, 1948



On May 14, 1948, Israel became an independent state recognized by the United Nations as a country in its own right but with limited area and no access to its traditional religious sites in Jerusalem.



The original UN plan had to be to also establish an independent Palestine state and to have Jerusalem under International Control (UN?).


However on May 15 Israel was attacked by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. In 1948, the Arab Legion, trained and led by British officers, conquered the Old City of Jerusalem and took control of territory for Jordan on the western side of the Jordan River, which became known as Transjordan.


The Arab nations involved negotiated their own armistice talks; however, refused to recognize Israel's existence and negotiate peace. They remained in a state of war with the Jewish state.
They continued their economic, political, social and cultural boycott of the Jewish state which was instituted by the Arab League in 1945. 

The Arab economic boycott of Israel prohibited Arab peoples, companies and states from conducting business both with Israel and with other companies who do business with Israel. They also embarked on a campaign to isolate the Jewish state in the international community.


The Arab states provided little help to Palestinians who became refugees after the war. Only Jordan offered Palestinian Arabs citizenship. Refugee camps were set up and maintained primarily by the United Nations and other international relief organizations.
 
Suez Crisis;  In July 1956 Egypt announced that it was going to nationalize the Suez Canal which since it had also blockaded the Straits of Tiran to shipping bound for Israel on Oct.29,1956 Britain, France, and Israel  attacked through the Sinai Peninsula and controlled the canal. The US and USSR forced Israel to withdraw but the straits remained opened.


The Six-Day War June 1967 between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria aided by troops from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, resulted in a crushing defeat of the Arabs and not only was the vulnerable 6 mile neck along the coast between the northern and southern portion of Israel expanded but Jordan was expelled from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Absorbed was the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt and the strategic Golan heights  from which Syria would bombard the kibbutz’s in the plains of the Galilee. 

After Egypt under Nassar signed a peace agreement and recognized Israel the Sinai with all the Israel investments was returned to Egypt.


From 1967-1970 there were intermittent border confrontations when a cease fire was signed.


The Yom Kippur: on October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur the most holy day for Jews, Egypt and Syria simultaneous attacked across the cease fire lines. It was 20 days before Israel could defeat them.


Around 1970 the PLO had been expelled from Jordan and relocated into southern Lebanon and along its Syrian border. From 1971 to 1982 there were periodic rocket and terrorist attacks on the Galilee. 

In 1978 Israel invade that part of Lebanon to stop those attacks. In 1982 due to increased PLO terrorist activities in June expelled the PLO from that area but it was replaced by the Iran supported Hezbollah with whom that was constant guerilla warfare on a small scale through 2000.


The First Intifada (1987-1993) and the Second Intifada (200-d by suicide2005) were  periods of PLO attacks on Israel population marked by suicide bombings in which large numbers of Israel civilians, focusing on women and children were killed  or maimed.


In 2006 Israel forces again invaded southern Lebanon along the Syrian border because of increased Hezbollah attacks and severely destroyed its capabilities.  


In 2005 the Gaza citizens by a narrow margin repudiated the more moderate Fatah which ruled the West Bank as the Palestine Authority in favor of Hamas dedicated to the destruction of Israel. 

This resulted in the Dec. 2008-Jan. 2009 Israel incursion into Gaza to stop the rocket firing aimed at Israel habitation within 12 miles of the border.


For the last few years the rocket attacks have increased in intensity; up to several hundred a day from Gaza causing random casualties and damage along with increased terrorist attacks onside in Israel.


Next post will contain excerpts from the printed media about the situation, including the failed armistices.







Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ABOUT GAZA PART1



Perhaps one of the most ridiculous oxymoron is the conception of “rules of war”. Warfare is not a game. There is only one objective; to kill or incapacitate your foe. An IED is as effective as a mortar shell.

Killing of civilians should not be a deliberate action however when a combatant deliberately places its weapons among those civilians there will be either innocent casualties or unacceptable losses among the “good guys”.  

We are seeing this today. Israel is being castigated worldwide because of the number of civilians including children that have already been killed in Gaza.

Yes a tank shell hit the third floor of a hospital, not deliberate but bad shooting. Supposedly there was a rocket stockpile nearby in a building. 

No media fuss is made about the ammunition caches discovered in a mosque or a school building; just mentioned in passing. It is a reported fact that the operational headquarters of Hamas is in a bunker under Gaza's largest hospital.

On the other hand the fact that Hamas is launching thousands of rockets blindly at Israel cities does not seem to cause the same indignation. Tuesday one landed a mile from Israel’s Tel Aviv airport. Fortunately no casualties, but the response from the USA and Europe was to cancel commercial flights. A safety measure to be sure but harmful to Israel’s economy.

Ignored is the fact that the launch sites are placed among residential buildings. How do you negate them without endangering non- combatants?

There has never been any international effort to cut off the flow of weapons to Hamas, just criticism of Israel blockage.

We have heard little about the tunnels under the borders and the 
terrorist raids on Jewish settlements through those tunnels. More tunnels have been discovered and destroyed to date than even Israel believed to be existing.

There have been since the fighting began, at least three efforts for an armistice. Every one Hamas has rejected except for brief period a humanist one, and the moment the time period expired Hamas unloaded a volley of rockets into Israel. Once again there was no specific military target, just population sites.

There are as always accusations that Israel is persecuting the Palestinians. The West Bank and even Jerusalem are referred to as “Occupied Territory”. The term is misleading and erroneous as I will show in the next segment which will reiterate the history of that area. Suffice to say, even after WWII there never was a Palestine Homeland.

The people of Gaza in a popular vote selected Hamas who has never rescinded its pledge to destroy Israel as a nation to be the ruling force in Gaza. Do they not bear some  of the guilt for the civilian deaths? 

Yes Israel is being accused especially by Hamas of violating the "Rules of War" for the  500 civilian deaths as I write this. But is not the placing of weapons and munitions among civilians in their residential areas not a violation of those rules; or if it seems fit to abide by my own different rules?

8:45 AM: I am not condoning any civilian deaths in Gaza, nor excusing Israel responsibility were justified. However, Hamas and those residents of Gaza that support them are even more responsible because of their continued attacks on Israel from weapons fired  and stored  among civilians  housing; as well as the tunnels tha are also hidden in buildings.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chikungunya


In an earlier life when I was a young physician I also taught a course in infectious disease to the student nurses.

For several reasons it was a very popular course with the young ladies (there were no men in those days); perhaps because it was right after lunch and offered an hour of sleep time. Moreover, I gave almost the same exam for several years running, even told the class that I would do so.

For reasons that to this day I cannot understand every year I obtained some answers to questions that would make the “can you believe it “ classics.

Along with the usual infectious diseases excluding those common to Pediatric practice but including Typhoid, TB, Dysentery, Cholera, and Malaria (which was the source of the some of the most unique responses) I had two favorites which were rarely seen in this country before WWII and The Korean War; “Breakbone fever” (Dengue) a mosquito transmitted disease, and Tsutsugamushi disease a mite born Rickettsia disease.

Because of the latter’s name it always had a question on that exam.

After about five years the schools nursing teaching staff who had been auditing my lectures decided that they should teach that course, and one of my most enjoyable pro bono hospital obligations ended.

I was reminded of those pleasant years because once again within the last few weeks a new tropical mosquito transmitted disease has begun to make its appearance in our neck of the woods.

By name alone Chikungunya would have been the equal of Tustugamushi, and by symptoms which are worse than Dengue it would also merit inclusion in the pantheon of Mosquito transmitted diseases.

There is no known treatment but the symptoms including pain are extremely severe. Recovery is the norm, death rare

Among known Mosquito transmitted diseases which have appeared in the States are the viral Encephelidities: • 1: Eastern equine encephalitis, 2: Japanese encephalitis, (3) La Crosse encephalitis, (4) St. Louis encephalitis, (5) Western equine encephalitis, and (6) West Nile virus.



Other Mosquito transmitted diseases are: (1) Dengue Fever, (2) Malaria, (3) Yellow Fever, and (4) Rift Valley Fever which has not been seen in the USA, as well as some other rare viruses.